Turkish Writer Who Acknowledged Armenian Massacre Wins Nobel Prize in Literature

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The Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk, whose exquisitely constructed, wistful prose explores the agonized dance between Muslims and the West and between past and present, on Thursday won the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Announcing the award in Stockholm, the Swedish Academy said Mr. Pamuk’s “quest for the melancholic soul of his native city,” Istanbul, led him to discover “new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures.”

Mr. Pamuk, 54, is Turkey’s best-known and best-selling novelist but also a divisive figure in a nation being pulled in many directions at once. A champion of freedom of speech at a time when insulting Turkish identity is a criminal offense, he has run afoul of Islamists who resent his Western secularism and of Turkish nationalists who object to his unflinching, sometimes unflattering portrayal of their country.

The Swedish Academy never offers nonliterary reasons for its choices and presents itself as uninfluenced by politics. But last year’s winner, the British playwright Harold Pinter, is a prominent critic of the British and American governments, and there were political implications again in the choice of Mr. Pamuk....

Nationalist Turks have not forgiven Mr. Pamuk for an interview with a Swiss magazine in 2005 in which he denounced the mass killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire in World War I and the killing of Kurds by Turkey in the 1980’s. The remarks were deemed anti-Turkish, and a group of nationalists initiated a criminal case against him. The charges were dropped on a technicality in January. Accepting a literary award in Germany in 2005, Mr. Pamuk said: “The fueling of anti-Turkish sentiment in Europe is resulting in an anti-European, indiscriminate nationalism in Turkey.”

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