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The hunt for Pamuk's world

Not without reason, Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk objects to the many cultural interpretations of his books.

[Nobel Prize winner] How should we understand the works of Turkish-born author Orhan Pamuk?

The question is updated after Svenska Akademien 12. October made 54 the Nobel Prize winner of the year in literature. According to the official rationale, the award is awarded to Pamuk, "who, on the lookout for his hometown's melancholy soul, has found new senses for the cultural struggle and intertwining".

This is the whole reason given, but the 17 words still tell a lot. First, Pamuk's books are linked to his hometown of Istanbul. Opaque considering his first five novels, yes, but somewhat funny considering that his latest work of fiction from 2002 – Snow in Norwegian, Kar in Turkish – takes place in Kars, on the border with Armenia in the northeast, so far away from Istanbul can come in Turkey.

Secondly, the Swedish Academy also believes that Pamuk writes about "the clash of cultures", or "clash of cultures" in English, albeit in a constructive way. This is how the cultural policy formulation from last year's book fair in Frankfurt is reproduced when he received the "Peace Prize" for books in which "Europe and Muslim Turkey find space for one another".

But is Pamuk's literature really about "cultural meetings"? When I called Rana Tekcan, professor of literature at the University of Belgium in Istanbul, she gave a different perspective:

«Pamuk writes about conflicts in the human interior, not. . .

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Dag Herbjørnsrud
Former editor of MODERN TIMES. Now head of the Center for Global and Comparative History of Ideas.

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