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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 12, 2006

AUDIO: Listen to Christopher Merrill, director of the University of Iowa International Writing Program and literature critic for Public Radio International's program "The World," discuss Orhan Pamuk's receipt of the Nobel Prize on the program by clicking here.

Pamuk, Former UI Visiting Fellow, Wins 2006 Nobel Prize In Literature

The 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded to the Istanbul-born novelist Orhan Pamuk, a veteran of the University of Iowa International Writing Program (IWP).

Pamuk, who lives in Istanbul, is Turkey's best-selling author, and is known internationally for novels including "My Name is Red," "The New Life," "The White Castle," "The Black Book" and, most recently, "Snow."

He wrote part of "The Black Book" when he was in residence at the UI in the fall semester of 1985. He returned to Iowa City in 1998 to read on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series, broadcast on UI radio station WSUI.

The Nobel Prize, which carries a value of approximately $1.4 million, will be presented in a ceremony in Stockholm on Dec. 10.

"What good news this is that Orhan Pamuk, long rumored to be in the running for the Nobel, has received literature's highest honor," IWP Director Christopher Merrill said. "For he is one of the great writers of our time. His dazzling explorations of Turkey's plunge into modernity are at once profound and true. Early on, the IWP recognized that he is a storyteller of the first order, and what could be better than to see the flourishing, and the honoring, of such a talent?"

In announcing the prize today, the Nobel Foundation said that in his "quest for the melancholic soul of his native city (Pamuk) has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures."

His latest work, published in Turkish as "Kar" in 2002 and in English as "Snow" in 2005, is " a tale of love and poetic creativity just as it knowledgeably describes the political and religious conflicts that characterize Turkish society of our day," the Nobel Foundation said.

"In his home country," the foundation wrote in a statement announcing the award, "Pamuk has a reputation as a social commentator even though he sees himself as principally a fiction writer with no political agenda. He was the first author in the Muslim world to publicly condemn the fatwa against Salman Rushdie. He took a stand for his Turkish colleague Yasar Kemal when Kemal was put on trial, in 1995."

In 2005, in a case that attracted widespread international attention, Pamuk faced prosecution by the Turkish government "after having mentioned, in a Swiss newspaper, that 30,000 Kurds and one million Armenians were killed in Turkey," the foundation noted. Those charges were subsequently dropped.

Pamuk's work has been recognized over the years both in Turkey and abroad. His early novels won several Turkish and foreign literary prizes, while his most recent awards include France's 2002 Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger for "My Name Is Red," the 2003 International Impac Dublin Literary Award, and the 2006 Prix Mediterranee Etranger for "Snow." Pamuk has also written a nonfiction meditation on his hometown, Istanbul: "Hatiralar Ve Sehir" (2003), which was published as "Istanbul: Memories and the City" in 2006.

In June 2006, Pamuk was selected to receive the prestigious Peace Prize awarded by the Association of German Publishers and Booksellers. In announcing that award, which includes a cash prize of 25,000 Euros, the jury praised Pamuk for a unique ability to bridge cultures.

"In Orhan Pamuk, we are honoring an author who like no other writer of our time, explores the historical footprints of the West in the East and the East in the West," it said. "He is committed to a concept of culture based on knowledge and respect for others. Pamuk has created a genre in which Europe and Islamic Turkey co-exist."

More information about the prize winner is available on the Nobel Website at

The IWP -- a unique residency program that has been described as "The United Nations of Writing" -- introduces talented writers to American life; enables them to take part in American university life; and provides them with time, in a setting congenial to their efforts, for the production of literary work. Since 1967, more than a thousand writers from more than 120 countries have attended the IWP.

More information on the IWP may be found on the program's Web page, UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail,

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Stephen J. Pradarelli, 319-384-0007,; Program: Christopher Merrill, IWP director, 319-335-2609,