Twenty-four hours after Orhan Pamuk became the first ever Turkish writer to win the Nobel prize, reactions in Turkey are strangely mixed.His fellow artists have been overwhelmingly positive. Yasar Kemal, doyen of Turkish novelists and often tipped for the Nobel himself, emailed Pamuk to congratulate him for an award that he “thoroughly deserved”, while the winner of the 2003 Grand Jury prize at Cannes, Nuri Bilge Ceylan declared he was as happy as if he’d won it himself.
Others picked up on Pamuk’s suggestion that his award was above all a victory for all Turkish writers. “It’s a great opportunity for Turkey and Turkish literature to be better known by the world,” said the bestselling crime writer Ahmet Umit.Generosity has been in much shorter supply in Turkey’s mainstream media. “Should we be pleased or sad?” asked Fatih Altayli, editor of the mass circulation daily Sabah, in his Friday column.
Some see the criticisms as simple jealousy on the part of a parochial-minded intelligentsia. Others present them as just the latest evidence of how much damage the authoritarian coup of 1980 did to Turkish society.
But the debate is also typical of the country’s elite: determined to be taken seriously on the international stage, but only on its own terms.
“It’s tragic really”, said Elif Shafak, another novelist brought to book under Article 301 last month. “This is a huge honour both for Pamuk and the country, and yet so many people are so politicised they forget about literature entirely.”
13.10.2006: Margaret Atwood: Pamuk is a Nobel winner for our times
13.10.2006: Maureen Freely: Pamuk receives the Nobel for being a writer, not his politics
13.10.2006: Leader: Pamuk’s noble prize
03.04.2006: Interview with writer Orhan Pamuk
23.01.2006: Turkey draws back from prosecuting outspoken novelist
16.12.2005: Trial of Turkish author adjourned
16.12.2005: Leader: In praise of… Orhan Pamuk
24.04.2004: Orhan Pamuk on the road to rebellion
08.05.2004: Profile: Orhan Pamuk
Pamuk: The right choice?
06.08.2006: The Black Book by Orhan Pamuk
17.04.2005: Istanbul by Orhan Pamuk
29.05.2004: Snow by Orhan Pamuk
15.09.2001: My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk
12.03.2005: Istanbul by Orhan Pamuk
Orhan Pamuk author page
More about Orhan Pamuk on the Nobel prize site