The Turkish government relaunched an investigation into Nobel prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk on Monday after he was accused of insulting Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, in his new novel “Nights of Plague.”
One of Turkey’s most prominent novelists, he has sold over thirteen million books in sixty-three languages, making him the country’s best-selling writer. He is the author of the novels The White Castle, The Black Book, The New Life, My Name Is Red, Snow, The Museum of Innocence, Silent House, A Strangeness in My Mind and the Red-Haired Woman, as well as numerous non-fiction works.
A Turkish lawyer alerted Turkish authorities to the novel, suggesting that parts of the work were insulting to Ataturk and that that depiction broke certain laws in place that defend the founder’s memory.
The government had conducted an investigation and decided not to pursue the case any further, but the lawyer appealed, causing authorities to investigate further.
“In the “Nights of Plague,” which I worked on for five years, there is no disrespect for the heroic founders of the nation states,” Pamuk said in a statement to Bianet. “On the contrary, the novel was written with respect and admiration for these libertarian and heroic leaders.”
The Swedish Academy that awarded Pamuk the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2006 said that it is paying close attention to the investigation and the methods by which Turkey is handling Pamuk and his work.
Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk had previously criticized Turkish government
Despite being one of the most visible Turkish cultural figures in the world, Pamuk has had his fair share of conflicts with Turkey in the past.
The celebrated writer went on trial in Turkey after he making a public statement to the Swiss press that Turkey was responsible for the deaths of one million Armenians.
Pamuk had also criticized the Turkish government’s decision to convert Istanbul’s iconic Hagia Sophia into a mosque.
“There are millions of secular Turks like me who are crying against this but their voices are not heard,” he told the BBC on July 10, 2020.
“To convert it back to a mosque is to say to the rest of the world unfortunately we are not secular anymore,” he said, adding that Ankara’s move took away the “pride” some Turkish citizens had in being a secular Muslim nation.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on July 10, 2020 opened Hagia Sophia to Muslim worship once again after the Council of State – the highest administrative court in the country – ruled that the building’s conversion to a museum by modern Turkey’s founding statesman in 1935 was illegal.