13 10 2006 WHO IS ORHAN PAMUK publication date 30.12.2005

(Press F11 To View this in Full Screen)

Family, Friends, Failures
by Alin Ozinian

Part one

A lawsuit against Orhan Pamuk, a prominent Turkish writer, has been
initiated by the Turkish state, because of the statements he made
in the interview to a magazine issued in Switzerland. During his
interview, Orhan Pamuk emphasized that the Turks had exterminated
over one million Armenians and thirty thousand Kurds at the
beginning of the twentieth century, a statement considered an act
of national treachery.

The Armenian reader is familiar with all this. In recent days, the lawsuit
against Orhan Pamuk has been in the focus of attention not only of
the Turkish media, society and intellectuals, but also of European
higher officials. Before touching upon the lawsuit, its consequences
and its impact on the EU- Turkey relations, let's first of all observe
and get to know Pamuk a bit closer, who came into prominence for
the Armenians thanks to this very lawsuit rather than thanks to his

Pamuk's grandparents on father's side resettle during the 1850-1860's
Caucasian emigration in the Gordes community of the Turkish town
of Manisa. During these years, they are considered one of the
major families of the Gordes community, as many of the family
members get key positions in the political life of the community.
Describing his father's side, Pamuk uses the definition "turkized
Circassians" . In the 1890's, the family moves first to Izmir, and
later on to Istanbul.

Pamuk's roots on maternal side start from the island of Crete. Pamuk's
mother was one of the great-grandchildren of "Captan Deryae"
("Captain of Seas") Ibrahim Pasha, the Governor of Crete in the
1870's. In the early twentieth century, their family moves to Istanbul
as well...

In 1949, Gunduz Bey, Pamuk's father, and Sekure Hanum, Pamuk's
mother, get acquainted and decide to get married. Narrating the
story of his life, Pamuk always mentions that Movie Theater is of
big importance in his life because his parents fell in love with each
other in an Istanbul movie theater. Sevket, their first child, was born
in 1950, and Orhan in 1952.

A big crisis happens to Pamuk's family when Orhan's grandfather dies.
Orhan tells: "My grandfather' s death had a big impact on my
family, especially on my childhood ... My father and uncle began to
make investments, to take part in auctions unconsciously, as a
result of which they suffered heavy material losses. Most of my
souvenirs of childhood are connected with my grandmother. Tears
always appeared in her eyes when another piece of our real
property was sold. She was too afraid of our being reduced to
poverty and bankruptcy. We were not bankrupt but we were ruined
materially. As a matter of fact, with my grandfather' s death the
existence of our financial mechanism ceased as well.

During these years, my father escaped to Paris, leaving us. After
returning to Istanbul, he worked at many major companies like IBM,
AYGAZ, and KOC HOLDING, occupying leading positions. Later on,
he established contacts with the HALK PARTISI (People's Party).
Close relations started between our family and that party, and the
reason of it was very plain, as our family was getting rich again ...".

During the years of his education, Pamuk makes the impression of a
lazy, joky, playful pupil on everybody. As early as from the age of
6-7, Orhan begins drawing, and continues it until he becomes 22.

After graduating from Robert College, the first American college in
Istanbul, he enters Istanbul Technical University with the intention to
become an engineer like his father and grandfather. Completing the
third year in 1970, he leaves the university voluntarily, realizing that
he should be engaged in other things.

Not willing to serve in the army, he applies for the Department of
Journalism of Istanbul University. Graduating from the university in
1977, he applies for Master's Degree, for the same purpose.

At the age of 22, Pamuk decides to become a novelist and stops
drawing. During the last years of his education at the college big
changes take place in his life. He begins to keep away from his
friends many of them are from families belonging to the upper
stratum of the Turkish society. The Turkish writer describes the
years of his youth as follows:

"I began forming my individual world, and now I think that it was
conditioned by my family problems, too. Idle talks, quarrels took
place at home endlessly, and I was affected by the ongoing events.
Although the situation is about the same in 70-80 per cent of the
Turkish families, my parents did not endure and from 1972 they
began living separately, for getting divorced formally in 1978. In
1989 my father married again. In these years I lived with my mother
because my father was in the USA. Those were the first years
when I started out to write my first novel.

During that period my mother did no attempt to understand me. Imagine
that you are writing a novel, and it is the sense of your life, the
only aim in your existence. During that hard work they assure you
that it is simply an absurd thing and no reasonable man would gain
any profit of it. In other words, those were hard years, one can say
my father was more tolerant, and his approach was more positive as
compared with my mother's.

There were many things that might have induced me to write. For
example, I have never had the girlfriend I would like. I was not able
to attract the attention of girls, nobody took notice of me in my
family as well. Because all of this I wanted to write and show who I was..."


sent to Radio Adiga by Altud Muk