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Sharjah International Book Fair: Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk on the difficulty of telling the truth

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Orhan Pamuk

Turkish novelist, academic and Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk, who will be attending the Sharjah International Book Fair that opens at the Sharjah Expo today, says he is looking forward to meeting Asian publishers and book lovers in the emirate.

In an exclusive interview via Skype with Friday magazine on the eve of his departure to the UAE, Orhan, whose works including My Name is Red, The Museum of Innocence, Snow and A Strangeness in my Mind have earned him millions of fans, says he is waiting to ‘see the entire Asian publishing industry in one place in Sharjah’.

Known for deftly weaving personal reminisces with history and political analysis to create a seamless narrative of Turkey and its conditions in several of his works, the 67-year-old author has also written about Ottoman miniature artists and discussed east-west ties, among other subjects.

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An author who prefers talking about his books rather than himself, he says, ‘My works are more important… Also, all the interesting things in my life I have put into my books’.

To a question on whether it is easy to tell the truth in today’s world, Orhan admits that ‘Truth is [becoming] very hard to communicate because of developments in media. In digital media, everyone has his or her own truth. It is becoming very hard to tell the truth in today’s world.’

The acclaimed author, whose books often explore the conflict between the east and the west, says he likes to write on the subject ‘Because I am a Turk and Turkey is made up of partly Europe, and partly Islamic and Asian cultures. So this conflict interests me. [Also] all of the political problems of East and West are also problems that shape Turkey culturally and politically. So this subject interests me a lot’.

Orhan believes that for a person to write a novel, they must first have a story that they believe in or have an experience to share. And as for the secret to beautiful writing? ‘Changing and changing… and rewriting,’ says the laureate.

To read the full interview with Orhan Pamuk, go to Friday Magazine.

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