12 October 2006

Another literary prize

The 2006
Nobel Prize for literature has been won by Orhan Pamuk . Unlike the Booker, which is awarded to a particular book, the Nobel is awarded to a writer for the body of work which they've produced.

The brief citation on the official website refers to Pamuk as a writer "who in the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures". More detailed "biobibliographical notes" (in English) are posted elsewhere on the Svenska Akademien website.

At the same time as his win is announced comes a report from the BBC that the French lower house has voted in support of a bill making it an offence to deny that Turkey committed genocide against Armenians in 1915. If you know anything at all about Pamuk you'll know, as I've previously posted and
The New York Times states in its report of the Nobel Prize, that Pamuk has been in trouble with the Turkish authorities:

Pamuk, whose novels include ''Snow'' and ''My Name is Red,'' was charged last year for telling a Swiss newspaper in February 2005 that Turkey was unwilling to deal with two of the most painful episodes in recent Turkish history: the massacre of Armenians during World War I, which Turkey insists was not a planned genocide, and recent guerrilla fighting in Turkey's overwhelmingly Kurdish southeast.

''Thirty-thousand Kurds and 1 million Armenians were killed in these lands, and nobody but me dares to talk about it,'' he said in the interview.
The controversy came at a particularly sensitive time for the overwhelmingly Muslim country. Turkey had recently begun membership talks with the European Union, which has harshly criticized the trial, questioning Turkey's commitment to freedom of expression. The charges against Pamuk were dropped in January, ending the high-profile trial that outraged Western observers and cast doubt on Turkey's commitment to free speech.

Apart from watching developments in the next few days and beyond, I'll also be looking to read more of Pamuk's work: earlier this year I read Snow, and I hope to try My Name is Red next.

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