Orhan Pamuk Biography

(Turkish Novelist and Recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature)

Birthday: June 7, 1952 (Gemini)

Born In: Istanbul, Turkey

Books like ‘My Name is Red’, ‘The Museum of Innocence’ and ‘Snow’ carved a niche in the literary world and earned Orhan Pamuk the rightful Nobel Prize for Literature. Among numerous other illustrious writers of Turkey, Pamuk became the first ever author to have sold over eleven million books in over sixty different languages and to receive the highest literary accolade. Not only has he left an ineffaceable impression on his countrymen but has also made a mark across the world, with his publications reflecting his dreamy philosophies and his rich Turkish heritage. He is currently a professor in the Humanities Department at the University of Columbia and has recently joined the postmodern literature movement. However, his successful career was not short-of its snares and hazards. He was put on trial for expressing his opinion about the Armenian Genocide, which led to a number of his works and publications being burnt and he also became a target for numerous assassination attempts. A controversial personality in his native, Turkey, he seems to have a desire to expose the degradation of the Turkish society, publicly stirring issues like ethnicity, history, race and other elements that are considered distasteful in Turkey.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Ferit Orhan Pamuk

Age: 71 Years, 71 Year Old Males


Spouse/Ex-: Aylin Türegün (m. 1982), div. 2001) Kiran Desai

siblings: evket Pamuk, Hümeyra Pamuk (half-sister), S

children: Rüya

Born Country: Turkey

Quotes By Orhan Pamuk Nobel Laureates In Literature

Height: 5'4" (163 cm), 5'4" Males

City: Istanbul, Turkey

More Facts

education: Robert College Secondary School, University of Istanbul, Istanbul Technical University

awards: 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature
1979 - Milliyet Press Novel Contest Award (Turkey) for his novel Karanlık ve Işık (co-winner)
1983 - Orhan Kemal Novel Prize (Turkey) for his novel Cevdet Bey ve Oğulları

1984 - Madarali Novel Prize (Turkey) for his novel Sessiz Ev
1990 - Independent Foreign Fiction Prize (United Kingdom) for his novel Beyaz Kale
1991 - Prix de la Découverte Européenne (France) for the French edition of Sessiz Ev : La Maison de Silence
1991 - Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival (Turkey) for Best Original Screenplay
1995 - Prix France Culture (France) for his novel 2002 - Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger (France) for his novel
2002 - Premio Grinzane Cavour (Italy) for his novel 2003 - International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (Ireland) for his novel
2005 - Peace Prize of the German Book Trade
2005 - Prix Médicis étranger (France) for his novel 2006 - Washington University's Distinguished Humanist Award
2006 - Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
2008 - Ovidius Prize
2010 - Norman Mailer Prize
Lifetime Achievement 2012 - Sonning Prize

Childhood & Early Life
Orhan Pamuk was born in Istanbul and was raised in a wealthy family. He was educated at Robert College secondary school and then went on to study architecture at the Istanbul Technical University.
After three years, he left architecture school and focused his energies on writing. Thereafter, he shifted to the Institute of Journalism at the University of Istanbul and graduated from there in 1976. Soon, he began writing his first novel, ‘Darkness and Light’, while living with his mother.
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His first novel, ‘Darkness and Light’ went on to become a co-winner of the 1979 Milliyet Press Novel Contest, along with Mehmet Eroglu. He won a number of critical prizes for his early work, which motivated him to write more.
He authored the historical novel, ‘The White Castle’ in 1985, which also received numerous awards. His reputation began to soar around this time and extended beyond the geographical boundaries of Turkey.
In 1990, he authored ‘The Black Book’, which became one of the most popular yet the most controversial reads at the time. Following the success of this novel, he went on to write the screenplay for the movie, ‘Secret Face’, based on this novel. By this time, Pamuk had already become a high-profile celebrity in Turkey.
In 1995, he published his book of essays, titled, ‘Other Colors’ which augmented his international reputation. It sky-rocketed even more with the publication of ‘My Name is Red’, which is also considered to be one of his greatest works.
One book after another, Pamuk was gaining immense popularity, which increased manifold with the publication of ‘Snow’ in 2002. Around this time, he also began to dabble with writing memoirs and travelogues and produced ‘Istanbul-Memories and the City’ in 2005.
In 2005, he made a statement about the Armenian Genocide, for which he was prosecuted. Although the charges were dropped on January 22, 2006, angry protesters and large mobs threatened to kill him and many of his works were even burnt.
In 2007, he was invited to be one of the jury members at the Cannes Film Festival.
In 2008, he completed his novel, The Museum of Innocence- it was the first novel he published after receiving the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2006.
In 2008, he went to the United States to teach comparative literature at the University of Columbia. He was also a writer-in-residence at Bard College around the same time.
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Despite the case being dropped, Pamuk was convicted for insulting the honor of his people and the people of Armenia when he commented on the Armenian Genocide and eventually, had to pay a fine of 6,000 liras on March 27, 2011.
Although he was both feted and attacked for his works in Turkey, he continued to write and managed to retain popularity through his writings across the globe.
Major Works
‘Yeni Hayat’, translated as ‘The New Life’ in English, was one of Pamuk’s best-sellers and was published in 1994. It has been rated as one of his most ‘poignant’ works and sold over 2,00,000 copies in the first week of its publication.
‘My Name is Red’ is a blend of mystery, romance and philosophy and is set in 16th century Istanbul. The book has been translated in three different languages and has also been the recipient of a number of lucrative awards.
Awards & Achievements
Orhan Pamuk was conferred the prestigious ‘International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award’ in 2003.
He was awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature.
He was awarded the Sonning Prize for his literary contributions in 2012.
Personal Life & Legacy
On March 1, 1982, he married Aylin Turegun, a historian and they have a daughter, Ruya. However, their marriage ended in a divorce in 2001.
In 2010, he publicly announced that he was in a relationship with the Man Booker Prize-recipient, Kiran Desai.
This award-winning Turkish novelist often uses his elder brother, Sevket, as a fictional character in his works.

See the events in life of Orhan Pamuk in Chronological Order

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