Novel: Orhan Pamuk


The 19th Aydın Doğan Award goes to Orhan Pamuk

The 19th Aydın Doğan Award organized this year in the “Novel” section was granted to the Writer Orhan Pamuk, Nobel Literature Laureate (63). Pamuk received his cash prize of 50,000 TL and his statuette from Aydın Doğan, Founder and Honorary President of the Aydın Doğan Foundation (the ADV) and Honorary President of Doğan Holding.

The selection committee with Doğan Hızlan as chair and Prof. Dr. İnci Enginün, Prof. Dr. Nüket Esen, Semih Gümüş, Prof. Dr. Handan İnci, Prof. Dr. Turan Karataş, Prof. Dr. Jale Parla, Ömer Türkeş and Metin Celal Zeynioğlu as members held a meeting on Friday, February 6, 2015. It was unanimously decided at the meeting that Orhan Pamuk should receive the 2015 Aydın Doğan Award in the “Novel” section as he has introduced a diversity of novel genres to Turkish literature with his works, thus broadening the horizons of application for the young novelists following him; as he has masterfully brought together the here and the beyond, the worldly and the divine, the East and the West, and as he ranks among our masters representing the Turkish novel on a global scale.

The award ceremony was held at the Hilton Hotel Pavilion and Ball Room. Pınar Ergüner was the host of the night, and the ceremony was attended by many names from the media, business, politics and arts including Aydın Doğan, Founder and Honorary President of the Aydın Doğan Foundation (the ADV) and Honorary President of Doğan Holding; his wife Sema Doğan; Hanzade Doğan Boyner, the President of the Aydın Doğan Foundation and Doğan Online; Vuslat Doğan Sabancı, the Deputy Chairman of the ADV and the Chief Executive Officer of Hürriyet Newspaper; Arzuhan Doğan Yalçındağ, the Aydın Doğan Foundation Board Member and Doğan TV Holding Chairperson of the Executive Board; her husband Ali Yalçındağ, Yandex Turkey Chairperson of the Executive Board; their son, Aydın Doğan Yalçındağ; Candan Fetvacı, the Executive Director of the Aydın Doğan Foundation; Yahya Üzdiyen, the Chief Executive Officer of Doğan Holding; Sedat Ergin, Hürriyet Newspapers’ Executive Editor; Berna Yılmaz, the wife of former Prime Minister Mesut Yılmaz; former minister Hüsamettin Özkan, İlhan Kesici, Eyüp Can Sağlık, Tufan Türenç and his wife Pınar Türenç, President of the Press Council; Murat Yetkin, Doğan Hızlan, businessman Tuncay Özilhan, Enver Yücel, Mustafa Süzer, Altan Öymen, Fatih Çekirge; photography artist Ozan Sağdıç, winner of the previous year’s Aydın Doğan Award; Adalet Ağaoğlu, who won the first Aydın Doğan Award in the Novel section; Derya Sazak, Latif Demirci, Volkan Vural, Barış Tünay, Ezgi Başaran, Ferhat Boratav, Taha Akyol and Aslı Öymen. A dinner party followed the cocktail, where Orhan Pamuk’s books were to found on the guests' tables, with each table named after a particular novel. Harpist Merve Kocabeyler opened the ceremony with a mini concert, and a short film introducing the Aydın Doğan Foundation, Aydın Doğan Awards and the selection committee members was played in the ceremony.

Orhan Pamuk’s work has been among my masterpieces on this journey
Hanzade Doğan Boyner, the President of the Aydın Doğan Foundation spoke at the beginning of the ceremony and stated that they had gathered to reward a great writer adding that, “To be frank, making a speech about Orhan Pamuk is both thrilling and intimidating. I am not competent enough to speak about such a master of literature. I wanted to leave the speech part to our esteemed chairperson of the committee with the fear that my words would be inadequate. Nevertheless, I could not avoid this duty as the chairperson of the foundation. Therefore, I request you to take my words as the thoughts of a reader. I wanted to be an actor when I was a child. The reason behind this was my desire to experience different lives. The idea of experiencing completely different lives than the destiny we are born into particularly appealing to me; beautiful, enslaved, free, disabled, smart, fast, slow, political, apolitical... I dreamed of experiencing a thousand different lives as an actor. When I started leading a life far removed from my desire to act, I filled the void with books. Orhan Pamuk’s books have been among my masterpieces on this journey. I dived so far into the stories and characters that I felt other lives, other realities inside me.”

He has made a place for İstanbul in world literature just as Dostoyevsky did for St. Petersburg
Boyner stressed that Orhan Pamuk’s novels have always been multi-dimensional for her, and said that, “There was no monotony in any of his books. The past connected to today, the inanimate to the animate. At times, he opened completely different doors by individualizing political rifts that had not been solved over generations... As he did in ‘Snow’... Other times he has shown us how love can turn into passion or obsession, while expressing many nuances of our society with extreme clarity. As he did in ‘The Museum of Innocence’... He made us smile and surprised us with ‘My Name Is Red’... and immortalized our city in ‘İstanbul’. He has made a place for İstanbul in world literature just as Dostoyevsky did for St. Petersburg. I sincerely thank him for enriching my life as a reader. The Aydın Doğan Foundation, established 20 years ago, is performing a duty of loyalty by rewarding our writers and artists who have excelled in their respective fields, in step with its work dedicated to education in Turkey. I heartily congratulate Orhan Pamuk, who received his first great award in the Novel section in his homeland on behalf of our selection committee.”

He received the award from Aydın Doğan himself
After Boyner’s speech, the interview film with this year’s award-winner Orhan Pamuk was played. Afterwards, Aydın Doğan, Founder and Honorary President of the Aydın Doğan Foundation (the ADV) and Honorary President of Doğan Holding, presented Orhan Pamuk with the 50,000 TL cash prize and the statuette representing the Aydın Doğan Award.

What can be better than receiving an award and being loved?
Orhan Pamuk made a speech after receiving the award and thanked everyone who accompanied him on that special night. He continued, “I would like to thank the selection committee who thought of me, recommended me and selected me for this award. As I am a museum and foundation owner myself, I know the rigorous work it takes to manage a foundation and be active in this field. I am grateful to the owner and managers of the Aydın Doğan Foundation. What can be better than receiving an award, being loved and hearing ‘Well done, you've done an amazing job’? Forty years ago, when I was writing my first novel, I applied for an award given to unpublished novels. I applied so that, if I won, my unpublished novel could be published. However, 35 or 40 years ago, our literary sphere was so weak and random that no one would publish my 600-page novel, despite the award. I remember dreaming of suing the publisher for not publishing my books, of placing an ad in the press that explained the situation. This was 40 years ago. Back then, no one knew of Turkish literature and no one cared about the Turkish novel. Both the world at large and also the Turkish people were apathetic towards the novel because we did not have a middle class with a strong taste for the form.”

I am telling you this to recall the state we were in when I started
Pamuk continued by saying, “When I pushed my dreams of being an artist aside in 1973 as I thought being an artist was harder and decided to be novelist... 40, 50... not even 60 novels were published each year in Turkey. Whenever I saw a new novel I would shuffle through the pages, buying half of them with the allowance I got from my father, may he rest in peace. And I would start reading immediately. Of course, I could not finish all of them, but let us not dwell on that. Oğuz Atay’s ‘The Disconnected’ had just been published, and remains to day a classic. Oğuz Atay wrote that novel to be eligible for the TRT Novel Award. As he had to share the award with seven other novelists, his massive book could only be published as two volumes after arduous work. I am telling you this to recall the state we were in when I started writing novels. In those days – the beginning of 1970’s – the first edition of Tanpınar’s ‘A Mind At Peace’ was published and I realized that the second edition could only come after a quarter of a century. And it was not selling well or being read by many people. Let us not forget that a writer would only be considered successful if these first editions (3 or 4 thousand copies) sold out within five years. The art of the novel became what it is today in the days of Balzac, Stendhal and Dickens in the 1850’s, that is, 150-160-170 years ago. And we adopted this literary form from them, filling it with our troubles, our dreams and our memories.”

I sincerely believe that the Turkish novel has a bright future ahead
Pamuk stated that, “We always had two great problems. One of them is being modern and urban, and the other was addressing poverty. Recently I have been thinking, and have observed that even my latest novel ‘A Strangeness In My Mind’, which I think was influential in my receiving this award, was about these issues. But I have always seen the individuality and the oddity of our people as the main story. That is to say, please do not think that our novelists still deal with the problems of 40 years ago when you see the state my protagonist Mevlüt is in. I am trying to say that everything has changed. We had a novel-loving middle class in the 1970’s that was not strong enough, but that is stronger today. The best proof of this is the marvelous growth, enrichment and diversification of the Turkish publishing industry over the past 15 years. There were perhaps four thousand books published in Turkey. I would see all four thousand of them and follow them all. Now, I do not seem to be able to follow anything. This is not a failure on my part; but rather, confirms a great enrichment of the book industry, and in other fields. The 40-50 native novels published in 1970 now number in the hundreds. These new readers, the bibliophiles, expect us novelists to return to the main issues that Tanpınar, Oğuz Atay and other great novelists dealt with. These are our identity, our character, our private worlds and the colors of our individuality, as much as the social issues of the day. History has shown us over the past 160-170 years that human beings probe the concepts I have talked about, namely our identities, our characters and the unique shades of our individuality, in the best way possible through the novel. It can be said that human beings invented the novel to search through their identity, its character and its individuality, and to share this quest with a wider audience. We express ourselves best through novels; this is indeed how best to widen the evaluation of our humanity. That is why I sincerely believe that the Turkish novel has a bright future ahead. I am grateful to all of you.”

The award is given to enhance the Turkish people’s culture and quality of life
The Aydın Doğan Award rewards creative people in the cultural, artistic, literary and scientific fields of our country and as such shows appreciation for their efforts, their devotion, and the quality and excellence of their work. It also acknowledges, those who have earned praise in both the national and international arena from the outset of their careers, and their labors and cultural accumulation that enhance Turkish people’s culture and quality of life.

Orhan Pamuk's Biography
Orhan Pamuk was born in İstanbul in 1952. He was raised in the neighborhood of Nişantaşı, in a crowded family, much as he tells us in his novels Cevdet Bey and His Sons and The Black Book. As he explains in his autobiographical book İstanbul, he painted intensely from his childhood to when he was 22 years old and dreamed of becoming an artist. He went to high school at the Robert American College. After studying architecture at İstanbul Technical University for three years, he decided that he become neither an architect nor an artist, left school and studied journalism at İstanbul University. Pamuk decided to be a novelist when he was 23 years old, left everything else behind, shut himself in his apartment and started to write. His first novel, “Cevdet Bey and His Sons” was published in 1982 and with it, Orhan Pamuk won the Novel Gift and Milliyet Novel Award. Pamuk published his novel, “Silent House” the following year, and won the Prix de la Découverte Européenne in 1991 with its translation to French. His novel The White Castle (1985) that deals with the tension and friendship between a Venetian slave and an Ottoman scholar has been translated into many languages, and became the first novel to give Pamuk his international fame. Pamuk went to the United States with his wife that year and worked as a visiting professor at Columbia University in New York between 1985 and 1988. He published “The Black Book,” in which he tells about the streets, the past, the chemistry and the fabric of İstanbul through the character of a lawyer searching for his lost life in 1990. The novel was deemed worthy of the France Culture Award with its translation into French, and expanded Pamuk’s fame within and beyond Turkey as a writer who can write about the past and the present with the same enthusiasm. Pamuk had a daughter in 1991, naming her Rüya. In 1994, he published his poetic novel “The New Life” where he portrayed a college student influenced by a mysterious book. His novel “My Name Is Red,” in which he narrates Ottoman and Iranian muralists, and the way the non-Western world sees and depicts the world, through the intrigue of a love and family story was published in 1998. It was thanks to this novel that he won Prix du Meilleur livre Étranger (2002) in France, Grinzane Cavour (2002) in Italy and International Impac-Dublin (2003) in Ireland. Starting from the middle of the 1990’s, Pamuk adopted a critical approach against the Turkish state with articles he wrote on human rights and intellectual freedom. In 1999, he published a book of essays called “Other Colors” consisting of literary and cultural articles he wrote for magazines and newspapers both national and international. He published “Snow”, which he calls “my first and last political novel”, in 2002. The book was about the violence and tension among political Islamists, the military, secular figures, and Kurdish and Turkish nationalists in the city of Kars, and was chosen as one of the 10 best books of 2004 by the New York Times Book Review. Pamuk’s book published in 2003, “İstanbul”, is not only a memoir of his life until the age of 22, but also an essay enriched by the works of Western artists and local photographers, along with his personal photo album. Pamuk’s books have been translated into 62 languages and sold twelve million copies around the world, and he has earned honorary doctorates from numerous universities. The Peace Award granted by the German Booksellers’ Association since 1950, and considered the most prestigious cultural award of Germany was given to Orhan Pamuk in 2005. Moreover, “Snow” received Le Prix Médicis Étranger award, given to the best foreign novel each year in France. In the same year, Pamuk made the list of the top 100 intellectuals of the world by Prospect Magazine, and named as one of the 100 most influential people of the world by Time magazine in 2006. Pamuk is an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and teaches at Columbia University for a term each year.

The First Turk to win the Nobel Prize in Literature
Orhan Pamuk became the first Turk to win a Nobel Prize in Literature in 2006. Pamuk published his novel “The Museum of Innocence,” in which he deals with topics such as love, marriage, friendship and happiness in the individual and social context, and in 2010, published “Pieces From The Scene” including articles and interviews about his life and his relationship with literature from his childhood to the present day. Pamuk published his Norton classes from Harvard University as a book under the name of The Naïve and Thoughtful Novelist in 2009. He opened up the Museum of Innocence in İstanbul in 2012 and published the museum’s catalogue, “Innocence of Things”. In the same year, he received the Sonning Prize in Denmark for his extraordinary contributions to European culture. In 2013, he published “I Am A Tree”, consisting of the favorite parts of his books selected by himself. The Museum of Innocence was named the best museum in Europe by the European Museum Forum in 2014.