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Winter 2002: 8th issue - **2nd Anniversary**
Orhan PAMUK Is A Hit in Chicago

by Sel Erder YACKLEY, Midwest Correspondent


Orhan Pamuk addressed more than 150 people at the University of Chicago recently.  The standing-room only crowd heard him read a few paragraphs from his book My Name Is Red and then talk about his experience writing this, his sixth novel which has been translated into 20 different languages. 



Orhan Pamuk is at the University of Chicago. Pamuk presented his book,
My Name is Red, which published in the US in September 2001.


Pamuk was invited to Chicago by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University which used this opportunity as a symposium of sorts.  Moderator and organizer was Prof. Hakan Ozoglu, Ayasli Turkish Language Lecturer.


Considered one of the most prominent European novelists whose works have been translated into more than twenty languages, Pamuk was born in Istanbul, June 7,1952.  He spent all his life in this city, except for three years he lived in New York.


Pamuk told the audience he came from a family of engineers, but did not want to become one. "I loved to paint, starting at an early age,"he said. "My family said I did not have to become an engineer but should attend the Architectural Department of Istanbul Technical University for three years," he explained.  He finally gave in to his creative tendencies and finished The Institute of Journalism.  He started writing regularly at age 22 in 1974.  "I usually write 10 hours a day," he explained.


His books include The White Castle, The Black Book, The New Life---all internationally acclaimed.  The latest "Kar" was recently published in Turkey. 


Moderator (from left) Prof. Hakan Ozoglu, Prof. Cornell Fleischer, Prof.
Faik Mustafa and Stephen Kinzer.


Following Pamuk's talk three panelists critiqued the book and spoke about their impressions and conclusions.  They were: Prof. Faik Mustafa, who teaches Arabic, Prof.Cornell Fleischer, Kanuni Suleyman Professor of Ottoman and Modern Turkish Studies who is, a friend of Pamuk and another friend, Stephen Kinzer ,of the New York Times who authored the book Crescent and Star:  Turkey Between Two Worlds in 2001. All three congratulated Pamuk for the excellence in his writing and research, and the creative manner in which he brought to life Ottoman miniaturists'--their characters, passions, artistic talents and short falls.


The setting of My Name is Red is Istanbul in year 1591.  The Ottoman Sultan Murad III secretly commissions an illustrated book, which will celebrate his life and wants this book to be ready for the "Millennial Commemoration of Hegira" (Emigration of prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina).  At the same time, the Sultan intends to gift this book with a portrait of himself to the Venetian Dodge---demonstrating his achievements with western style paintings.  Even though in Islam, figurative painting is forbidden, the Sultan's plan is to impress the Venetian Court and show them that Ottoman artists can also paint in their style, complete with perspective and three dimensions on a two dimensional canvas. 



Sel Erder YACKLEY (right) with Semra Prescott (left) members of International Women
Associates in Chicago)




Pamuk's story is multi-faceted, working on many different aspects of life, belief and traditions of sixteenth century Ottoman society.  It is a superbly narrated historical murder mystery, a book of ideas, and a passionate love story--written through the mouths of 12 different narrators.  As pointed out by all the panelists, My Name Is Red's a timely book especially since the Islamic East and the Christian West are at odds with each other.


The two-hour discussion concluded with questions from the audience, which included Consul General of Turkey--Hon. Yavuz Aktas and Mrs. Fatos Aktos, a dozen professors, members of the International Women's Associates, writers' groups, authors and scores of graduate students.  A buffet dinner followed the presentation.  Orhan Pamuk's stops in the U.S.A. included Iowa, Chicago, New York and Washington D.C. 



Sel Erder Yackley
Say it with Sel Enterprises
E-mail to: seliko@earthlink.net


This article originally written for the Turkish Times. Special Thanks to Ms. Yackley for sharing her article also with us.

This issue dedicated to such distinguished poet & composer as (alphabetical order):
Nazim HIKMET & Ilhan MIMAROGLU

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