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Turkish author wins Literature Nobel
October 12, 2006 17:42 IST
Last Updated: October 12, 2006 20:10 IST
Turkish author Orhan Pamuk won the Nobel Prize for Literature on Thursday, the Swedish Academy announced.
In its citation, the academy said Pamuk, who lives and works in Istanbul, "in the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures."
The prize is worth 10 million Swedish kronor (1.37 million dollars).
Orhan Pamuk is today Turkey's leading novelist, by far its most famous both within Turkey and in the wider world.
Born into a wealthy family in Istanbul on June 7, 1952, Pamuk has never been far from controversy inside Turkey where he has critics both from the religious conservative camp and the secular establishment.
Last December a controversial trial against Pamuk for "insulting Turkishness" was dropped by the Turkish Justice Ministry following international criticism.
The writer had talked about the massacre of Armenians in Turkey during World War I, which Turkey denies, and had spoken of "one million murdered Armenians." If convicted he faced three years in prison.
Pamuk's seven published novels explore the way Turkey is torn between East and West and how it is split between conservative religious folk and modern western-looking secularists.
The writer sees the splits clearly but also looks into how the two actually make Turkey what it is. His main argument is that to look at upholding one's own history and traditions is not incompatible in a modern secular state that seeks to join the European Union.
Educated at the prestigious American school Robert College in Istanbul, Pamuk went on to study architecture at Istanbul Technical University but dropped out after three years. He later went on to complete in journalism at the University of Istanbul.
While never actually going into journalism, Pamuk wrote his first book Darkness and Light in 1974, but it wasn't published until 1982 under the title Cevdet Bey and His Sons.
In 1983, Pamuk was already regarded as a leading Turkish novelist when he published The Silent House, but it was his 1985 novel The White Castle that brought real international attention winning numerous awards including the Independent Award for Foreign Fiction.
At this stage Pamuk left Istanbul to take up a visiting fellow position at the University of Iowa where he wrote The Black Book.
Returning home to Istanbul his first daughter Ruya, whose name translates as dream, was born in 1991, the same year that the film Hidden Face, based on a single page from the The Black Book, was released in Turkey.
His next novel, 1994's The New Life focused on university life in Turkey and became the fastest selling novel in Turkish history.
In 1998, My Name is Red was published to wide international acclaim. The story of Ottoman and Persian artists portraying the Ottoman Empire won the French Prix Du Meilleur Livre Etranger, the Italian Grinzane Cavour and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.
Snow, his latest novel, was published in 2002 and is Pamuk's most political novel that tells the story of the struggle between Islamists, Kurds, secularists and the all-imposing state in the small town of Kars near the Turkish border with Armenia.
Snow was a clear continuation of Pamuk's foray into political commentary that he began in the 1990s when he began publishing articles extremely critical of the heavy-handed way the authorities were trying to suppress a Kurdish rebellion in south-east Turkey.
Last year he won the annual Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, Germany's top literary honour.