Orhan Pamuk is a distinguished Turkish novelist and screenwriter. After completing his graduation, he published his first novel ‘Darkness and Light’ which brought him the ‘Milyet Press Novel Contest Award’. This encouraged him to further write his historical novel titled ‘The White Castle’ which also turned out to be a great success and helped his readership cross the national boundaries. This was followed by 'The Black Book’ which became the most controversial book of his career, but its popularity motivated him to write a screenplay based on it. He wrote several successful novels before one of his most notable books ‘My Name is Red’. This book turned out to be a great success and was translated into various languages, and received several awards. During this period he wrote a few travelogues as well memoirs published as ‘Istanbul-Memories and the City’. He has been honored by various awards and accolades including the most respected ‘Noble Prize for Literature’. He has shared his views and thoughts on several subjects through his writings, travelogues and also through the characters of his novels and books. We have scanned his writings for his most famous quotations. We are taking you through some of Orhan Pamuks’ great quotes and thoughts on writing, comparative literature, freedom of speech and philosophy.
Oscar Wilde always makes me smile - with respect and admiration. His short stories prove that it is possible to be both sarcastic, even cynical, but deeply compassionate. Just seeing the cover of one of Wilde's books in a bookshop makes me smile.
Culture is mix. Culture means a mix of things from other sources. And my town, Istanbul, was this kind of mix. Istanbul, in fact, and my work, is a testimony to the fact that East and West combine cultural gracefully, or sometimes in an anarchic way, came together, and that is what we should search for.
I consider myself Istanbul's storyteller. My subject matter is my town. I consider it my job to explore the hidden patterns of my city's clandestine corners, its shady, mysterious places, the things I love.
From a very young age, I suspected there was more to my world than I could see: somewhere in the streets of Istanbul, in a house resembling ours, there lived another Orhan so much like me he could pass for my twin, even my double.
When the whole world reads your books, is there any other happiness for a writer? I am happy that my books are read in 57 languages. But I am focused on Istanbul not because of Istanbul but because of humanity. Everyone is the same in the end.
I write because I have an innate need to. I write because I can't do normal work. I write because I want to read books like the ones I write. I write because I am angry at everyone. I write because I love sitting in a room all day writing. I write because I can partake of real life only by changing it.
Modernity means overabundance. We are living in the age of mass-produced objects, things that come without announcing themselves and end up on our tables, on our walls. We use them - most of us don't even notice them - and then they vanish without fanfare.
One side of me is very busy paying attention to the details of life, the humanity of people, catching the street voices, the middle-class, upper-middle-class secret lives of Turks. The other side is interested in history and class and gender, trying to get all of society in a very realistic way.
I wanted to tell a romantic and dark side of Ottoman history that was also slightly political, saying to the previous generation of writers, 'Look, I'm interested in Ottoman things, and I'm not afraid of it, and I'm doing something creative.'
Good fiction is about asserting the beauties of the world, inventing a new, positive thing. Where am I going to get that? And it should be original; it should not be cliched. So the way I looked at history was not to accuse it of failure.
'Snow' is my most popular book in the United States. But in Turkey, it was not as popular as 'My Name is Red,' or even 'The Museum of Innocence,' because the secular leaders didn't want this bourgeois Orhan trying to understand these head-scarf girls.
I have always thought that the place where you sleep or the place you share with your partner should be separate from the place where you write. The domestic rituals and details somehow kill the imagination. They kill the demon in me.
When I write, I feel that I'm writing with my intellect. When I paint, I think it's some other force making me paint. I - as I wrote in my novel 'My Name is Red' - watch with amazement what my hand is doing on the paper, what kind of line, what kind of strange, beautiful thing it's doing in spite of my will, so to speak.
I believe in a world where there are no heroes, and I've read and know humanity a lot. There are moments that I admire in a person courage, intellect, hard work. These are the qualities I admire in an intellectual, in a writer, and there are so many people who have these things.
The truly great books are always novels: 'Anna Karenina,' 'The Brothers Karamazov,' 'The Magic Mountain.' Just as with 'Shahnameh,' I browse these books from time to time to remember how a great book works on us or to teach my students at Columbia University.
Just as good books give me the joys of being alive, bad novels depress me, and as I notice this sentiment coming from the pages, I stop. I also do not hesitate to walk out of a movie house if the film is bad.
Self-hatred is OK. I have self-hatred, too. It's OK. What's bad is if you don't know how to get out of it, don't know how to manage it. Self-hatred is, in fact, a good thing if you can clearly see the mechanism of it, because it helps you to understand others.
People look at me as sort of a diplomat for Turkey, which by nature, I'm not; I don't want to be. It's again about that playfulness. Being Turkey's voice or representative is not playful, it's not childlike; it makes me self-conscious, kills the child in me.
The habit of collecting, of attachment to things, is an essential human trait. But Western civilization put collecting on a pedestal by inventing museums. Museums are about representing power. It could be the king's power or, later, people's power.
I wrote 'My Name is Red' just to remember painting, where the hand does it before the intellect. When I'm captive to it, I'm a happier person. Kierkegaard tells us that a happy person is someone who lives in the present; the unhappy person, someone who lives either in the past or the future.
Idealism, unrealistic idealism, is always contrasted with the reality of the people, of the man in the street. The details of daily life are always more convincing than the political fantasies of the earlier generations.
Novels are political because in them, we try to identify with people who are not like us. And, in that sense, I like the first-person singular because I have to imitate accurately the voice of someone who is not like me. The third-person singular gives me an authority over a character.
I strongly believe that the art of the novel works best when the writer identifies with whoever he or she is writing about. Novels in the end are based on the human capacity, compassion, and I can show more compassion to my characters if I write in a first person singular.
We should not judge Islam by terrorists. All civilizations and cultures produce terrorists. Every time there is a flag-burning, killing, or provocative films, I'm worried, not because something radical will happen, and this time, some people are killed. We're very sorry for that.
Let us say in the pocket of one of my old coats I find a movie ticket from many years ago. Once I see the ticket, not only do I remember that I saw this movie, but also scenes from this movie, which I think I have entirely forgotten, come back to me. Objects have this power, and I like it.
I came across humanity in Istanbul, and all I know about life comes from Istanbul, and definitely, I am writing about Istanbul. I also love the city because I live there, it has formed me, and it's me. Of course it is natural. If somebody lived all his life in Delhi, he will write about Delhi.
I don't look at emails, Internet or newspapers before 1 P.M. I wake at 7 A.M., eat fruit, drink tea or coffee, and read what I've achieved, or not achieved, the previous day. Then I take a shower and work on my next sentence until 1 P.M. After I've done emails and so on, I write again from 3 P.M. until 8 P.M.; then I socialise.
My home is attached to a study - in fact, my home is my study, and I have a little room to sleep in. I need to write looking onto the street or a landscape. Looking at reality from some distance gives me romantic visions.
If a writer is to tell his own story - tell it slowly, and as if it were a story about other people - if he is to feel the power of the story rise up inside him, if he is to sit down at a table and patiently give himself over to this art - this craft - he must first have been given some hope.
If I think back on the books to which I have devoted my entire life, I am most surprised by those moments when I have felt as if the sentences, dreams, and pages that have made me so ecstatically happy have not come from my own imagination - that another power has found them and generously presented them to me.