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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Orhan Pamuk

The Turkish author Orhan Pamuk has reportedly left his home country to live in America amid fears for his life.

The writer was tried in an Istanbul court in 2005 for the crime of insulting Turkishness. This came about after he talked openly about the mass killing of between one and two million Armenians in the early years of the twentieth century.

Talking about that event was a rather silly thing to do. It is self evident that no Turkish government would arrange for such a thing to happen. And even if a government like that of the Young Turks, who controlled the Ottoman Empire at the time, somehow did manage to get themselves implicated in the genocide, surely, by now, the democratic leaders of modern Turkey would have admitted the fact, paid reparations, and eaten humble pie?

4 Responses to “Orhan Pamuk”

  1. Charlotte says:

    Having just read Istanbul: Memoirs of a City, which demonstrates his love for the city of his birth, I understand what a tragedy this is for Pamuk.

    jb says: Hi Charlotte. I’m sure that exile is one of the cruelest punishments that any society can bestow.

  2. L says:

    I read about that — absolutely insane!

    jb says: Apparently it’s becoming more and more difficult to spot absolute insanity.

  3. Exile is such a terrible thing that even those of us whose exile was not imposed feel special sadness at this news. But I can’t help feeling that America is a bad idea. He’ll be more exiled there than anywhere, in my view. What happened to the days when France was a destination for profoundly European exiles like Kundera? I’m very sad we didn’t even manage to keep Pamuk on our continent.

    jb says: I suppose you go some place where you have personal contacts, friends. Or anywhere that offers a safe haven.

  4. Jean says:

    I hadn’t heard this, and am shocked. I read his Istanbul book recently, and it made me long to go there again. Clearly now is not the time – more like time for a tourism boycott. Let us hope it’s not for long.

    jb says: Hi Jean. The boycott is, of course, a wonderfully effective political tool. But I, like you, hope that Pamuk’s exile does not have to be for long.