Speaking Out For Orhan Pamuk

Renowned Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk is in trouble with his government for speaking out about Turkish war crimes against its Armenian population nearly a hundred years ago.

Turkey is hardly the only nation that has ever been held accountable for genocide, but where other nations have convicted their war criminals in court, Turkey is looking instead to convict a major author for saying that war crimes took place. A worldwide protest is called for, and this page is a good start.

One wonders: even if the Turkish authorities manage to shut Pamuk up … what are they going to do about all these noisy Armenians?

8 Responses

  1. ArmeniaI missed this post the

    I missed this post the first time around, but this genocide is one of the more neglected historical events. It is famous solely as being Hitler’s justification of the holocaust. He said something like “After all, who remembers the Armenian massacre today?” when people suggested you aren’t allowed to kill off an entire race/religion. If anyone is interested, the movie “Ararat” is about an Armenian kid trying to realize his feelings about an event that many believe didn’t occur. I lived in Istanbul for quite some time recently, and this movie is not allowed to be shown there. I found it to be especially relevant as it addresses the genocide and the denial by the world of the genocide. Turkey has a long and enduring history of oppression, including a fairly recent (1995) murder of a very famous satirist/communist named Aziz Nesin.

    On a side note, I find Orhan Pamuk a trifle boring, though his novel Snow is about revolution and oppression.

  2. Yeah, it’s true. I didn’t
    Yeah, it’s true. I didn’t know about that movie — I’ll check it out.

    When I think about Armenian arts and literature, I think first of Adam Saroyan. His stories mostly took place in the Fresno/Salinas area of California. His son Aram Saroyan also wrote a good book called Genesis Angels. I haven’t read Pamuk yet either … I’m going to look for some of his stuff as soon as I get a chance.

  3. Of course, the
    Of course, the representatives of the Turkish government have extensive arguments as to why what happened during World War One should not be construed as genocide. However, they have not succeeded in gaining any international credibility for these arguments. If the Turkish gov’t feels their prosecution of Pamuk is justified, they should be heard — but I have not heard a convincing argument yet.

  4. As this is a literatary web
    As this is a literatary web site, I’ll literarily kick Pamuk when he’s down, though I love and adore his country and look forward to the day I go back. His books just aren’t as good as they should be. Most people I met in Turkey were less than impressed (They were more impressed with the basketball vistory over the US during the Olympic qualifiers). He manages to take great ideas about civil liberties and progression and make them, for lack of a better word, trite. To his credit, he is the only conduit to modern day Turkey short of an e-ticket for most English readers. In that respect his books are worthwhile. But the stories seem to lack that ineffable quality that captivates mind and soul. But they could get there. He’s got a captivating set; once he gets the story to match, he could write a true classic.

    That being said, his persecution by the government is wrong and the international community needs to speak out. It seems very strange to me that as they try and join the EU, the Turkish government would pick on one of its most international stars.

  5. The Armenian massacre has
    The Armenian massacre has been one of the more successfully forgotten genocides (the argument being the usual one – it couldn’t possibly have happened, because that would be terrible). As far as novels etc are concerned the only account i’ve seen is in Whittemore’s SINAI TAPESTRY, which is worth having a look at.

  6. That’s interesting, Rubiao,
    That’s interesting, Rubiao, and yeah, I definitely think it’s relevant to discuss his literary merit. I’m going to judge for myself, but your description reminds me of how I felt during the days when Salman Rushdie was facing death threats for The Satanic Verses. I wanted to like the book in political solidarity … except I find Rushdie’s cutesy postmodernism absolutely obnoxious and impossible to read. Satanic Verses read to me like David Foster Wallace doing a long, long parody of Jorge Luis Borges. Politics: good. Writing: bad. I’ll have to see if I have any better luck with Orhan Pamuk myself.

  7. It turns out we might have a
    It turns out we might have a difference of opinion as I thought The Satanic Verses was a great book with greater aspirations. I thought it had nowhere near the pretntiousness of say a David Foster Wallace book, and any postmodern trickery it contained was well played. I thought the retelling of the Koran was inspired and original and the main stories were were cleverly spliced. To me, Pamuk is about halfway there.

    On a side note, possibly another post, and in the vein of persecuted authors: Has anyone read or seen Before Night Falls by Reinaldo Arenas? One of the more intense tales of persecution I have ever encountered.

  8. Hmmm, well, Rubiao, maybe
    Hmmm, well, Rubiao, maybe that means I’ll really like the Pamuk!

    You might be right that Satanic Verses was brilliant — I didn’t get anywhere near far enough to find out. I haven’t checked out Arenas either — I guess I got some reading to do.

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