“I ran away, but I returned, and I will continue to tell its story. It’s natural that I write about it because this is the best place I know.” Watch Nobel Prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk in this interview about his relationship with Istanbul – now and then.
“We are living at the edge of Europe with aspirations to be modern and European.” Pamuk, who has spent his whole life in Istanbul, feels that it is a privilege to have witnessed how the city has grown in the span of a lifetime. However, he didn’t become conscious of being a so-called ‘Istanbul-writer’ before he was around 45 years old. Being born into a Westernized middle-class family, he initially wrote mainly about that class, but slowly more and more of the city and its inhabitants have found their way into his books. Nevertheless, Pamuk is clear that he does not embellish the city: “It’s like my body. It’s like our families. Our relationship. What’s given to us by God. My history. I don’t glamorize it.”
On the subject of the melancholy that seems to run through his books, Pamuk explains that he cares about decaying, colonial buildings as it reminds him of the Istanbul of his early days, and goes on to comment on the wisdom that he’s gained from the city: “What I’ve learned in 65 years is: Don’t hope for continuity, don’t naively hope that your memories will be preserved and people will be worshipping, caring or paying attention. Just learn that in the end everything will be washed away. If you learn not to aspire too much, resignation helps.”
Orhan Pamuk (b. 1952) is Turkey’s best selling novelist and the recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature. Pamuk is the author of several novels including ‘The White Castle’ (1990), ‘The Black Book’ (1994), ‘My Name is Red’ (2001), ‘Snow’ (2004), ‘The Museum of Innocence’ (2009), ‘Strangeness in My Mind’ (2015) and ‘The Red-Haired Woman’ (2016). He is also the recipient of numerous other prestigious literary awards such as the 2002 Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger and the 2003 International Dublin Literary Award. For more see: https://www.orhanpamuk.net/
Orhan Pamuk was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark in May 2017.
Camera: Jakob Solbakken and Rasmus Quistgaard
Edited by: Klaus Elmer
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2017
Supported by Nordea-fonden