Nobel literature laureate Orhan Pamuk said late on Thursday he was honored to be awarded the prize although his initial reaction was confusion at who could be calling him in the middle of the night."It's such a great honor, such a great pleasure," Pamuk told journalists at Columbia University in New York, where he studied as a visiting scholar in the 1980s. "I'm very happy about the prize."The boyish Turkish author, who is now a fellow at Columbia, said the award announced earlier on Thursday was a cause for celebration not just for him but his country and culture. “I think that this is first of all an honor bestowed upon the Turkish language, Turkish culture, Turkey and also recognition of my labors ... my humble devotion to that great art of the novel," he told reporters. . . . .
Wearing a black velvet jacket and sporting a wide grin while sitting on his hands as he was introduced, the novelist was ebullient as he described how he learned of the award. "My first reaction? Who is calling me in the middle of the night? I have a new mobile, there's something wrong with my mobile," he joked, before describing how he broke the news to his daughter on the telephone.
Pamuk, who has courted controversy in his native Turkey by tackling subjects such as the treatment of the Kurdish minority and the Ottoman massacre of Armenians during World War I, declined to be drawn by reporters' questions. "This is a time for celebration, for enjoying this, rather than making political comments," he told journalists. When pushed, he said: "This is a day for celebration, for being positive. I have lots of critical energy deep in me but I'm not going to express it today." "I want to tell my readers both in Turkey and all over the world ... that this prize will not change my working habits, my devotion to this art," he vowed.
Pamuk's books, translated into more than 40 languages, are: "Cevdet Bey and His Sons" (1982), "The Silent House" (1983), "The White Castle" (1985), "The Black Book" (1990), "The New Life" (1994), "My Name Is Red" (1998), "Snow" (2002) and "Istanbul" (2003).
Jubilation and doubts in Turkey:
Turkish newspapers were torn Friday between joy at the country's first Nobel Prize and doubts whether the literature laureate, novelist Pamuk, was being rewarded for his writing or for his political dissidence, which has often embarrassed Turkey.
"He is our pride," trumpeted the liberal daily Radikal on its front page, while mass-circulation Milliyet said: "The world honors Orhan Pamuk."
Next to the festive headlines were furious banners denouncing a French bill that would make it a crime to deny Turks committed genocide against Armenians during World War I.
The bill was voted on by the French National Assembly on Thursday shortly before Pamuk was named winner of the Nobel Prize for literature in Stockholm.
The massacres, which Ankara denies were genocide, earned Pamuk, 54, the reputation of a "traitor" among Turkish nationalists and landed him in court after he questioned in a magazine interview the official line on this most controversial episode in Turkish history.
"Orhan Pamuk wins the Nobel prize -- for what he said or what he wrote?" the popular Vatan asked, saying his achievement brought "bittersweet joy" to Turks.
"Undoubtedly, the award is a source of pride for the whole nation ... but the stunts Pamuk performed to win it are not forgotten," an editorial in the best-selling Hurriyet newspaper said. "Unfortunately, Pamuk abided by the rule of the Western world that in order to win a literary prize, you should go against your country whether you are right or wrong," it added.
But many commentators played down the doubts.
"Some people draw the following picture: those who say it was not genocide go to jail and those who say it was win the Nobel. ... It is not that easy," one columnist wrote in Vatan. "These heated debates, these stale jokes will soon pass," he said. "And what will be taught in schools in 10 years' time will be that Orhan Pamuk was the first, and perhaps the only, Turkish writer to win the Nobel Literature prize."
The case against Pamuk, in which he risked up to three years in jail, was dropped on a technicality in January after only one hearing marred by far-right demonstrators attacking and booing the author.
He first drew the ire of the state in the mid-1990s when he denounced the treatment of the Kurdish minority as the army waged a campaign to suppress a bloody separatist insurgency in the Southeast.
The state extended an olive branch in 1998, offering him the accolade of "State Artist," but Pamuk declined.
"Not even Nobel escapes politics" said The Washington Times on Friday on Pamuk winning the prize. "The postmodern Turkish novelist (the author of 'Snow') has gained publicity in the last year but not for his work -- he was on trial in his native country for 'insulting Turkishness' in his comments about an alleged Armenian massacre," the newspaper stated. It said, "At 54, he is on the young side of literature laureates, who tend to be in their 60s and 70s with a long career behind them."
Government praise reserved:
Education Minister Hüseyin Çelik sent a congratulatory letter to Pamuk on Friday, noting that the Nobel Prize was a tremendous opportunity to promote Turkey. “I leave the assessment of the statements the author made in recent times to a different time. A Turkish novelist receiving the Nobel prize is a very happy occasion.”
State Minister Mehmet Aydın also congratulated Pamuk, adding: “I know him and his toil personally. We can only hope similar achievements are realized in chemistry, physics, medicine and economy.” When asked about Pamuk's comments on the Armenian claims, Aydın said: “Pamuk received a prize on literature. That's what we should assess.”
Turkish Parliament Speaker Bülent Arınç congratulated Pamuk for winning the Nobel Prize for Literature but said that his prize was overshadowed by genocide discussions in France. "We are glad about the situation. Personally, I congratulate dear Orhan Pamuk," Arınç said.
"Unfortunately, the Nobel prize won by Pamuk was overshadowed by genocide discussions in France. A segment of society says that Pamuk won the Nobel Prize not for his novels but the words for which he was tried. Another group calls attention to his literary position. I just congratulate Pamuk for the prize he won. But he [now] has an important responsibility. I would like to say: Seeing that such a discussion is continuing in Turkish society, dear Pamuk should serve as a good example with his remarks and behavior. As a writer, what does he think about the law in France that rescinds freedom of expression? It is a subject of curiosity not only for me and Turkish society but for the whole world. His words will be a guide for society as well. The meaningful acts of some segments of society found their place in Turkey as well as in the Western world," he said.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier welcomed Pamuk's Nobel literature prize win on Thursday, calling the Turkish author a "builder of bridges" between Europe and his home country. "He is a symbol of the desire of large parts of Turkish society to become part of Europe," Steinmeier said.
October 14, 2006
ANKARA - TDN with wire services
Pamuk Speaks 'Politically' on Genocide Bill
October 14, 2006
Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature, said France was wrong in passing an Armenian genocide bill, but one should not make a mountain out of a mole hill.
In a telephone interview broadcast live on the private television network NTV, Pamuk, who faced criminal charges for his statements acknowledging the massacre earlier in the year, said: “What the French did is wrong. France has a very old tradition of liberal and critical thinking and I myself was influenced by it and learned much from it. But the decision they made constitutes a prohibition. It does not suit the French tradition of liberalism."
Related to the reactions on his Nobel Prize, Pamuk said there was never a Nobel prize that was not met with any reaction, describing the controversy it as a positive development, even when in Turkey.
Swedish Academy: "Pamuk controversial, as are all Nobel award winners"
The declaration that this year's Nobel Prize for Literature had gone to Turkish author Orhan Pamuk came mid afternoon yesterday. Horace Engdahl, the Secretary of the Swedish Academy, opened the doors of the Academy and made some statements concerning the decision to give the award to Pamuk:
Clarifying that the political situation in Turkey had had no effect on the Academy's decision, Engdahl said "There are of course some political reverberations that could come from this decision, but this doesn't concern us." And with regard to Pamuk's own controversial status within Turkey he noted "Pamuk is a controversial person in his own country, but nearly everyone who receives our award is too." Engdahl also underscored the Academy's feeling that Pamuk had "widened the very roots of the modern novel" by "taking novels from our Western hands, and turning them into something quite different from anything we have seen so far."
Further comments from the Swedish Academy on the Pamuk decision went as follows: "Pamuk, despite not seeing himself as a person who has a political agenda or ambitions, is known in his own country as a controversial figure. Within the Islamic world, he was the first writer to condemn the fatwa against Salman Rushdie. And in 1995, when fellow Turkish writer Yasar Kemal was brought to court, Pamuk was there to defend him."
Pamuk: This Nobel goes to all of Turkey, the Turks, and Turkish language
Speaking at a press conference in New York City yesterday, where he is currently a visiting professor at Columbia University, Orhan Pamuk told reporters that the Nobel Prize for Literature was not only given to him, but to all of Turkey, Turkish culture, and the language of Turkish. Said Pamuk, "Today I would just like to celebrate this good news. There is nothing else I wish to talk about or comment on."
Pamuk said that he had learned in the morning of the news via a phone call from the Swedish Academy. He explained "The head of the Swedish Royal Academy called me and asked whether I would accept the prize. I said I would."
Pamuk told reporters that he hoped the awarding of the Nobel to his work would raise the profile of Turkish literature and culture in the world at large, adding "I think that this award will cause the world to re-examine Turkish culture as a culture of peace, and as a mixture of East and West cultures. My books are proof that in fact Turkey is a part of both the East and the West."
Pamuk declined to answer any questions on Turkey's controversial penal code, nor on his previous statements regarding the Armenian genocide and cultural clashes.
Turkey is proud of Pamuk
Why are we attacking a novelist of ours? That same novelist wins the Nobel Prize. For a country having a novelist who is a Nobel laureate is an honor, and Orhan Pamuk allowed us all to enjoy this honor.
Those who don't know the importance of the Nobel prize may not grasp the historic nature of this event. It's impossible for them to understand what has happened. Especially for a country like Turkey, this is a groundbreaking development.
The reason is the fact that Turkey is unfortunately not really a country of culture.
In the international arena in particular, Turkey's report on culture is full of failures. While we try to give the impression that culture is very important for us, we usually think it is enough to limit it with traditional dances. Culture always comes second to other considerations.
In theater, Turkey is almost nonexistent.
In the movie industry, it is quite hard to find a Turk.
Orhan Pamuk emerging from a nation proud of its tradition of not reading books, with teenagers learning culture from television, and winning the most prestigious literature prize will attract serious attention.
I can almost hear those anti-Turkish groups in Europe and Turks who want to keep Turkey away from Europe. The first group will say: “The Nobel committee has committed a mistake. Turkey was too lucky. Such a thing won't happen ever again.” Meanwhile, the unfortunates in our midst will argue, “He got the prize just because he caused trouble on the Armenian issue and the penal code's Article 301.”
While Pamuk is praised overseas, here he is being attacked. Well, isn't this what all great people need to suffer? No matter how much he is criticized, no one can deny that he earned great prestige for our country.
No matter who says what, he won. And through him, we did too.
We are honored.
We are proud.
It is time to rid ourselves of 301:
I was furious as I was listening to Patrick Deveciyan, one of the leading names of the Armenian diaspora, at the French parliament. Deveciyan argued that Turkey could not teach them anything on freedom of expression, noting that Hrant Dink was punished for saying “There was a genocide” due to Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK).
He was right.
We set a trap and fell into it. Actually, it is France that is violating freedom of expression. Despite that, we were caught red-handed on the 301 matter, and they are doing their utmost to exploit it.
I don't know if you have noticed it, but France was seriously criticized for the Armenian bill. Maybe they don't care, ignoring the attacks because right now domestic political considerations are their priority, but they felt its sting.
Turkey's case will become stronger as it rids itself of laws like Article 301.
Let's stop pointing fingers and amend Article 301 in a way that will stop causing problems. We have no other option.
We must realize by now that if we don't act by ourselves, others will make us do so. As long as we believe in ourselves and defend what is right, we will win.
It doesn't matter what France does.
Does anyone want to confuse ANDIÇ:
On Tuesday, Yeni Şafak daily interviewed Ergun Babahan, Sabah daily's former news coordinator and current editor in chief. Babahan said in the interview: “Birand was not dismissed from Sabah daily because of the ANDIÇ controversy. ANDIÇ was just used as an excuse. The management didn't like him. If they had liked him, they could have stood behind him. Their failure to do so may have been due to personal differences.”
I was very surprised.
Especially because these words came from Babahan.
This was not something I knew since the affair on Feb. 28, 1997. Neither Babahan nor the editor in chief of the time, Zafer Mutlu, had told me that my contract was canceled because of personal differences. Both of them, especially Babahan, who I enjoyed working with, had told me they could no longer publish my articles due to pressure exerted by the military.
That's not all. I had heard from all Sabah executives, especially the daily's then Ankara representative Fatih Çekirge, which general had made threats on the matter. My name being openly noted in the ANDIÇ document had confirmed my opinion on the matter. For the last 10 years, Sabah's then owner, Dinç Bilgin, and other executives, including Babahan, have been saying how sorry they are about what happened.
I also remember the interview Nazlı Ilıcak had with Bilgin in which he described my dismissal as a “shame.” Bilgin said they had committed a mistake.
Why did they go to all this trouble?
Instead of tainting their credibility with one of the worst incidents of our history of democracy and media, they could have just said, “We just didn't get along with Birand and as a result dismissed him.” They may have also waited only a few days for the affair to blow over and then dismiss me, saving themselves from claims of culpability.
If the Sabah management truly used the ANDIÇ claims as an excuse to dismiss me, what they did was worse than succumbing to military pressure. They endangered my and my family's safety. Just think about the shooting of Human Right Association (İHD) President Akın Birdal.
I was never a victim of ANDIÇ and I never complained. I almost never talked about the matter. I didn't care about being dismissed by Sabah. The ANDIÇ affair was just an idiotic accident. That's all.
I must say, I was a little annoyed with what Babahan said. We have spent a lot of time together and he never mentioned that small detail to me. Didn't the management of that newspaper publish the article full of deceptions about two of its columnists? Wasn't I fired the day the article appeared in the paper? Didn't those who fired us cite the claims made in the document and the military pressure as the reasons behind the decision? I can't make sense of Babahan putting a new twist into the matter after all this time.
What worries me more is that if Cengiz Çandar's articles were not censured and I wasn't fired because of the document, then the ANDIÇ document full of provocations and lies was not really a big deal in the history of democracy and media in Turkey.
Is that what some are trying to do? Is the matter being diluted? If that's the intention, I really can't see Babahan involved in it.
October 14, 2006
Mehmet Ali Birand