Nobel prize winner Turkish novelist said he could never have imagined 40 years ago, during the time when his works had been began to be published, that his country would one day be in such an awful situation.
Orhan Pamuk, the recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature, spoke at the ceremony for the 2021 Sedat Simavi Literature Award as the recipient of this year’s award for his novel Nights of Plague.
He was recently investigated for ‘insulting’ the founder of modern Turkey and ridiculing the Turkish flag in Nights of Plague, a novel set on a fictional Ottoman island during an outbreak of the bubonic plague in the early 1900s.
“Enforcing quarantine measures is somehow turning states into authoritarian mechanisms as we’ve been witnessing both in Turkey and in the rest of the world, and I’d been tempted to write about this,” he said.
“However, our own state, especially within the last five years, has been in no need of a pandemic for turning authoritarian. Such bad things are happening indeed. I’ve been involved with this kind of work for 40 years. It never occurred to me that my country, 40 years later, would both politically and economically be in such an awful, in such bad shape. What shall I say, God give people patience and the strength to resist.”
He added that he admired journalists for their bravery and struggle to continue expressing their opinions at any cost in Turkey.
“Turkey has become such a country that, not us, novelists, but journalists are trying to find a tiny patch that is still open to freedom of thought and they are carrying out a struggle there, expressing their opinions bravely and criticising, ready for any sacrifice. And I’m honoured to receive an award from the Association of Journalists.”
In 2011 Pamuk had been found guilty in a criminal case in which he faced court for his remarks in 2005 about the Armenian genocide and mass killings of Kurds.
He had said in an interview with a Swiss newspaper: “A million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds were killed in this country and I’m the only one who dares to talk about it.”