Istanbul: Memories and the City

IstanbulAbout the Book

Orhan Pamuk presents the reader with the interesting story of the city of Istanbul he knows in a novel form, combining it with his own life story until the age of 22. This story heads from Pamuk’s first feelings related to his mother, his father and his family, and as a source of happiness and sadness, opens out to the streets of Istanbul. As we discover Istanbul’s streets in 1950s, the roads with cobblestones, ruined blasted wooden mansions, the difficulties of the disappearance of an old culture while a new culture rises out of the ashes and shambles of it, we can follow swiftly the evolution of Pamuk’s spiritual world as if we’re reading a detective novel. In this unique piece that searches Istanbul’s black-white melancholy, we find the unity of soul and emotions special to some books which we read time after time.

About the Author

Orhan Pamuk was born in Istanbul in 1952 and grew up in a large family similar to those which he describes in his novels Cevdet Bey and His Sons and The Black Book, in the wealthy westernised district of Nisantasi. As he writes in his autobiographical book Istanbul, from his childhood until the age of 22 he devoted himself largely to painting and dreamed of becoming an artist. After graduating from the secular American Robert College in Istanbul, he studied architecture at Istanbul Technical University for three years, but abandoned the course when he gave up his ambition to become an architect and artist. He went on to graduate in journalism from Istanbul University, but never worked as a journalist. At the age of 23 Pamuk decided to become a novelist, and giving up everything else retreated into his flat and began to write.

Orhan Pamuk’s books have been translated into 46 languages, including Georgian, Malayan, Czech, Danish, Japanese, Catalan, as well as English, German and French. Pamuk has been awarded The Peace Prize, considered the most prestigious award in Germany in the field of culture, in 2005. In the same year, Snow received the Le Prix Médicis étranger, the award for the best foreign novel in France. Again in 2005, Pamuk was honoured with the Richarda Huck Prize, awarded every three years since 1978 to personalities who “think independently and act bravely.” In the same year, he was named among world’s 100 intellectuals by Prospect magazine. In 2006, TIME magazine chose him as one of the 100 most influential persons of the world. In September 2006, he won the Le Prix Méditerranée étranger for his novel Snow. Pamuk is an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and holds an honorary doctorate from Tilburg University. He is an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters as well as the Chiese Academy for Social Sciences. Pamuk gives lectures once a year in Columbia University. Lastly, he received the 2006 Nobel Prize for Literature, becoming the second youngest person to receive the award in its history.

Apart from three years in New York, Orhan Pamuk has spent all his life in the same streets and district of Istanbul, and he now lives in the building where he was raised. Pamuk has been writing novels for 30 years and never done any other job except writing.

Book Club Information

Date: Tuesday, May 6, 2014 at 6:15 pm
Location: Multnomah County Library Central Library, U.S. Bank Room, 810 SW 10th Avenue
Speaker: Pelin Basci, Portland State University Associate Professor of Turkish

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