The Nature of Nostalgia
Robert Yik-Fong Tam Professor of the Humanities and professor of writing in the School of the Arts, Orhan Pamuk is one of Turkey’s most internationally renowned novelists and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature. A prolific author and known for books such as The Black Book, My Name is Red, Snow, Istanbul: Memories of a City and The Museum of Innocence, his novels have been translated into over 40 languages. His outspoken views on Turkey and the erosion of secularism in Turkish politics have pitted him at odds with the Erdogan government and forced him to live abroad in the search of free speech. Intrigued by the nature of nostalgia and the preservation of memory, Pamuk writes with a precise eye for detail about characters who search for something which has been lost.
“I have lived all my life in Istanbul and wrote about its humanity. I consider myself the writer of the city, even as I am approached internationally. At some point, I was politically pressured too much, I needed some free speech, so I accepted the job offer from Columbia. I’ve been teaching here joyfully for the last eight years (Pamuk was also a visiting scholar at Columbia for three years in the 1980s), and my literary professor friends are asking, ‘Orhan, you’re writing about Istanbul all your life. We expect that you will write about New York, too.’ And I always say, ‘Don’t worry. I’m not going to write a campus novel and make fun of you.'”
Read more about his most recent novel to be translated into English A Strangeness in My Mind and his life on campus here in an interview with Columbia’s Eve Glasberg.