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13/10/2006

From the Feuilletons is a weekly overview of what's been happening in the German-language cultural pages and appears every Friday at 3 pm. CET.. Here a key to the German newspapers.

Orhan Pamuk wins Nobel Prize in Literature

Turkish author Orhan Pamuk (interview here) has been selected as this year's laureate of the Nobel Prize in Literature, a decision approved of by commentators:

Süddeutsche Zeitung
13.10.2006

The paper prints the last chapter of Orhan Pamuk's book "Istanbul", which will soon be published in German: "My head was confused by feelings of guilt and the desire to flee. In it, the streets of Beyoglu with their dark corners blinked like neon advertising. When I was particularly angry or moved I noticed how these half-obscure, half-beguiling streets which I loved so much, had replaced the second world, my refuge."

Michael Krüger's Hanser Verlag has been publishing Orhan Pamuk for years. He talks proudly in an interview with Ijoma Mangold about his house's relationship with Pamuk and things Turkish: "We were fascinated by Pamuk's first novel 'The White Castle,' because it was entirely clear that here was an author who could explain the East to the West, and the West to the East. As far as Turkish literature goes, we haven't got a clue. There's been a Turkish modernity since Ataturk, but we haven't had anything to do with it. We've taken notice of some of the Turkish literature written in Germany, that's all very nice, but Turkish literature in Turkey, which has to deal with everything that Pamuk's had to put up with – including legal trials – we've never had anything to do with that."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung
13.10.2006

"With Orhan Pamuk, the Swedish Academy is honouring an author who has turned everything he's seen, smelled, tasted and experienced into literature with indefatigable consistency and concentration," Monika Carbe writes, and recounts an anecdote. "Asked what stopped him from painting with so much zeal and concentration, as he had done since his earliest youth, Pamuk answered in a 1996 interview with Celal Özcan: 'No doubt because I was convinced at the time that writing was the way to raise your voice and speak out, while painting meant muteness. And I didn't have the intellectual maturity to be able to bear that muteness with dignity."


Die Tageszeitung 13.10.2006

Jürgen Gottschlich comments on the Nobel Prize being awarded on the very day that the French national assembly decided to punish the denial of the Armenian genocide. "For Orhan Pamuk and Turkish literature as a whole, this is a highly infelicitous circumstance. The outrage of many Turks about Paris' silly decision will now rebound on Pamuk, and dampen the Turks' joy that one of their own has been awarded the Nobel Prize. Pamuk has always rightly sought to prevent his literary work from disappearing behind his political opinions. He has produced great literature that would have been worthy of the Nobel Prize even if he'd never expressed himself politically."

Tobias Rapp also stresses: "Above all it is the writer Pamuk who has received the prize. According to Horace Engdahl, the secretary of the Academy, Pamuk 'writes fascinating depictions of the city,' which are 'practically unique among authors of world calibre.' Because that's what Pamuk's work is all about: his home town Istanbul, and the feeling of melancholy induced by living in the ruins of a grand past which can't be interpreted unproblematically, because so many additional layers of significance have accrued since Turkey's modernisation."


Der Tagesspiegel 13.10.2006

Tayfun Erdem, a composer who lives in Berlin's Kreuzberg district, pays a unique tribute to his friend Orhan Pamuk. "When we built a house in Turkey ten years ago, there were big problems with the builder and he gave me several good tips. To be honest, he didn't have a clue about music. He understood a lot more about painting – he was once a painter himself. On the other hand, I've read almost nothing that he's written. But I say to him: don't be insulted, that's true love. We talk about everything under the sun. That's what our friendship is: I've read nothing by him and he doesn't understand a thing about music but there's something there, nonetheless."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 13.10.2006

Christian Geyer describes the subversiveness of Pamuk's work. "When Pamuk describes cultural integration, he doesn't use it as an opportunity to fight. When he talks about cultural conflict, he shows it to be exaggerated. Yes, Pamuk aims at the fatal, historical and legal symbol of cultural conflict. Such a symbol presumes cultures to be closed entities, which they have never been historically. Such a symbol, when used in the present, immunises a culture against attempts to reform it."


In other stories...

Die Welt
13.10.2006

Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick talks in an interview about the North Korean film festival in Pjyongyang from which he has just returned. "When I arrived, I was reminded of the Berlinale in the 1980s. The Syrian delegation – a none too shabby five of the 50 foreign guests – left because the very precise German Jury president didn't want to accept that the Syrian film was put in competition without further ado. In the evening at the banquet, there was dancing and singing and many speeches on the importance of cultural exchange. At the end I sang a song with the librarian from the reading room: 'Im kühlen Wiesengrund.'"

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