Ferit Orhan Pamuk (generally known simply as Orhan Pamuk; born 7 June 1952) is a Turkish novelist, screenwriter, academic and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature. One of Turkey’s most prominent novelists, his work has sold over eleven million books in sixty languages, making him the country’s best-selling writer.
Born in Istanbul, Pamuk is Robert Yik-Fong Tam Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University, where he teaches comparative literature and writing. His novels include The White Castle, The Black Book, The New Life, My Name Is Red and Snow.
As well as the Nobel Prize in Literature (the first Nobel Prize to be awarded to a Turkish citizen), Pamuk is the recipient of numerous other literary awards. My Name Is Red won the 2002 Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger, 2002 Premio Grinzane Cavour and 2003 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.
The European Writers’ Parliament came about as a result of a joint proposal by Pamuk and José Saramago. In 2005, Pamuk was put on trial in Turkey after he made a statement regarding the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire. His intention, according to Pamuk himself, had been to highlight issues relating to freedom of speech (or lack thereof) in the country of his birth. The ensuing controversy featured the burning of Pamuk’s books at rallies. He has also been the target of assassination attempts.
Pamuk was born in Istanbul, in 1952, and grew up in a wealthy yet declining upper-class family; an experience he describes in passing in his novels The Black Book and Cevdet Bey and His Sons, as well as more thoroughly in his personal memoir Istanbul. He was educated at Robert College secondary school in Istanbul and went on to study architecture at the Istanbul Technical University since it was related to his real dream career, painting. He left the architecture school after three years, however, to become a full-time writer, and graduated from the Institute of Journalism at the University of Istanbul in 1976. From ages 22 to 30, Pamuk lived with his mother, writing his first novel and attempting to find a publisher. He describes himself as a Cultural Muslim who associates the historical and cultural identification with the religion while not believing in a personal connection to God.