Orhan Pamuk Wins Nobel Prize for Literature

Posted on October 12, 2006

Turkish author Orhan Pamuk has won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Pamuk nearly went to jail in his home country over a charge that his writing "insulted Turkishness." The prize carries a 10 million Swedish crown ($1.36 million) cash prize.

Pamuk told the Svenska Dagbladet in Sweden, "I am very glad and honoured. I am very pleased. I will try to recover from this shock."

Reuters reports that Pamuk was tried for insulting "Turkishness" after telling a Swiss paper last year that 1 million Armenians had died in Turkey during World War One and 30,000 Kurds had perished in recent decades. The court dismissed the charges on a technicality.

Pamuk said during the trial, "What I said is not an insult, it is the truth. But what if it is wrong? Right or wrong, do people not have the right to express their ideas peacefully?"

Some Turkish nationalists are saying that the award has political overtones and that the Nobel Prize for Literature shouldn't be awarded for political reasons. But most believe that Pamuk's work itself is more than worthy of the award. The Academy said Pamuk "in the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures."

Pamuk's most recent book is Istanbul: Memories of a City, which has received rave reviews from critics.