2006 Nobel Prize in Literature
Orhan Pamuk
"who in the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures."
  • 12 October 2006 (2006-10-12) (announcement)
  • 10 December 2006
LocationStockholm, Sweden
Presented bySwedish Academy
First awarded1901
WebsiteOfficial website
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The 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to the Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk (born 1952) "who in the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures."[1]


Main article: Orhan Pamuk

Orhan Pamuk, a leading novelist in Turkey, made his literary debut with the novel Cevdet Bey ve Oğulları (Cevdet Bey and His Sons, 1982), a novel with measured and meticulous prose, set in the backdrop of the last days of an empire and then the slow and troubled rise of a young republic, spanning three generations of a large family and their social connections. His international breakthrough came later and was firmly established with Benim Adım Kırmızı ("My Name is Red", 1998) and Kar ("Snow", 2002). Pamuk's novels are characterized by the search for identity in the borderland between Western and Eastern values, an attempt to understand differences and similarities and an ambivalent yearning for both modern and old traditions. Among his other famous works include Sessiz Ev ("Silent House", 1983) and Masumiyet Müzesi ("The Museum of Innocence", 2008).[2][3]


Among the favorite authors tipped to win the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature were the Syrian poet Adunis, Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk (who eventually won), American prolific writer Joyce Carol Oates, French writer Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio (awarded in 2008), Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami, Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer (awarded in 2011), Danish poet Inger Christensen, Israeli writer Amos Oz, South Korean poet Ko Un, American author Philip Roth, Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski, American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, and Indo-British novelist Salman Rushdie.[4]


When the Swedish Academy announced that he had been awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize, it confounded pundits and oddsmakers who had concluded that Syrian poet Ali Ahmad Said, better known as Adunis, was most likely to receive that year's award.[5] There were concerns within Turkey that the decision to award the Nobel Prize to Pamuk was politically motivated.[6] In its citation, the academy said: "In the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city, [Pamuk] has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures."[7]

The choice of Pamuk was generally well received. "It would be difficult to conceive of a more perfect winner for our catastrophic times.", said Margaret Atwood, "Pamuk gives us what all novelists give us at their best: the truth. Not the truth of statistics, but the truth of human experience at a particular place, in a particular time. And as with all great literature, you feel at moments not that you are examining him, but that he is examining you."[8] In his native Turkey reactions were mixed. Leading newspapers took a political stance and questioned Pamuk's Turkishness. The best reaction to Pamuk's victory was pride, wrote the editor of the pro-government Daily Sabah, but "we can't quite see Pamuk as 'one of us'... We see him as someone who 'sells us out' and ... can't even stand behind what he says."[9]

Nobel lecture

Pamuk held his Nobel Lecture on 7 December 2006 at the Swedish Academy, Stockholm. The lecture was entitled "Babamın Bavulu" ("My Father's Suitcase")[10] and was given in Turkish. In the lecture he allegorically spoke of relations between Eastern and Western civilizations using the theme of his relationship with his father.

What literature needs most to tell and investigate today are humanity's basic fears: the fear of being left outside, and the fear of counting for nothing, and the feelings of worthlessness that come with such fears; the collective humiliations, vulnerabilities, slights, grievances, sensitivities, and imagined insults, and the nationalist boasts and inflations that are their next of kin ... Whenever I am confronted by such sentiments, and by the irrational, overstated language in which they are usually expressed, I know they touch on a darkness inside me. We have often witnessed peoples, societies and nations outside the Western world–and I can identify with them easily—succumbing to fears that sometimes lead them to commit stupidities, all because of their fears of humiliation and their sensitivities. I also know that in the West—a world with which I can identify with the same ease–nations and peoples taking an excessive pride in their wealth, and in their having brought us the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and Modernism, have, from time to time, succumbed to a self-satisfaction that is almost as stupid.

— Orhan Pamuk, Nobel Lecture (translation by Maureen Freely)

Pamuk's books broke a record and sold over 200,000 copies after the announcement of his success, leading to him becoming Turkey's best-selling recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature.[11]


  1. ^ The Nobel Prize in Literature 2006 nobelprize.org
  2. ^ Orhan Pamuk – Facts nobelprize.org
  3. ^ Orhan Pamuk britannica.com
  4. ^ Robin Varghese (11 October 2006). "Nobel Literature Odds". 3 Quarks Daily. Retrieved 20 August 2022.
  5. ^ Lea, Richard (12 October 2006). "Orhan Pamuk wins Nobel prize". The Guardian. London. ISSN 0261-3077. OCLC 60623878. Retrieved 2 September 2008. At 7–1, 54-year-old Pamuk was third favourite with bookmakers Ladbrokes in the run up to the prize, following in the wake of perennial Nobel contender Ali Ahmad Said, the Syrian poet better known as Adonis (3–1) and the American author Joyce Carol Oates (6–1).
  6. ^ Rainsford, Sarah (13 October 2006). "Pride and suspicion over Pamuk prize". BBC News. Retrieved 4 December 2008.
  7. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Literature 2006". NobelPrize.org. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
  8. ^ Margaret Atwood A Nobel winner for our times The Guardian 13 October 2006
  9. ^ Nicholas Birch Pamuk's Nobel divides Turkey The Guardian 13 October 2006
  10. ^ "My Father's Suitcase" – Orhan Pamuk's Nobel Lecture, 2006 as translated from the Turkish by Maureen Freely. Also available from official Nobel Prize site
  11. ^ "Orhan Pamuk's widely acclaimed novels Snow and My Name Is Red will be published in Kannada language by Peak Platform". orhanpamuk.net. 11 October 2011. Retrieved 11 October 2011.