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I`ve achieved balance: Orhan Pamuk

New Delhi: Leading Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk, often considered the stormy petrel of the literary world, says he has found an equilibrium between childlike naivete and the reflective state of a sentimental mind to hone his craft after 35 years of writing novels Pamuk said there was a time in his youth when he "completely dedicated himself to novels".
"During those years, from the age of 18 to 30, I wanted to describe what went on in my head and in my soul the way a painter depicts with precision and clarity a complicated animated landscape," the 58-year-old Nobel Laureate says in his new book, "The Naïve and The Sentimental Novelist" published by Penguin-India.

"Now, after an adventure of 35 years as a novelist, I would like to continue with my own examples, even as I try to convince that I have found an equilibrium between the naïve novelist and the sentimental novelist inside me," he says.

The book, an anthology of his opinions on novels and its dynamics, is a journey into the world of readers, their favourite novels and into Pamuk`s own evolution as a reader and a writer.

The book, published by Penguin-India, was released in the capital Thursday by the writer, who was in India for the sixth DSC Jaipur Literature Festival Jan 21-25 with his companion Kiran Desai.

Novels are second lives that reveal the colours and complexities of lives, Pamuk says.

"Just as in dreams, when we read novels, we are sometimes so powerfully struck by the extraordinary nature of things that we envision ourselves in the midst of the imaginary events and people we are witnessing," the writer says in his new book.

Pamuk, who teaches humanities at the Columbia University, is known for books like "My Name is Red", "Snow", "Istanbul: Memories of a City" and "The Museum of Innocence". He has often been in the eye of controversies for his statements on the politics of Turkey and West Asia and his stand as a defender of free speech.

Pamuk was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2006.

Walking readers through his passionate love affair with the novel, the 58-year-old Turkish writer says he has been reading novels for 40 years.

"I know there are many stances we can adopt towards the novel, many ways in which we commit our souls and mind to it, treating it lightly or seriously. And in just the same manner, I have learnt by experience that there are many ways to read a novel. We read sometimes logically, sometimes with our eyes, sometimes with our imagination - sometimes with a small part of our mind, sometimes the way we want to," Pamuk says in his book.

Exploring the enigmatic pull of the novel, Pamuk says "novels are unique structures that allow us to keep contradictory thoughts in our minds without uneasiness and to understand differing points of views simultaneously".

"In 2008, I published in Turkey a novel entitled `The Museum of Innocence`. The novel is concerned with (among other things) the actions and feelings of a man called Kemal, who is deeply and obsessively in love.

"It wasn`t long before I began receiving the following question from a number of readers: `Mr Pamuk, did all this actually happen to you? Mr Pamuk, are you Kemal?" the novelist says.

He cites two contradictory answers to prove his stand.

"No, I am not my hero Kemal. But it would be impossible for me to ever convince readers of my novel that I am not Kemal," he says.

"In other words, I wanted my novel to be perceived as a work of fiction, as a product of my imagination - yet I also wanted readers to assume that the main characters and the story were true. And I did not feel at all like a hypocrite or a trickster for harbouring such contradictory desires deeply," he said.

Pamuk observes the creation of original voices and new forms of the novel, in controlled societies, came about as a result of politically necessary reactions and maneuverings that relied on contradictions.

Non-western writers often use new forms of novels as a shield against state repression and to state the truth at the same time.

"These contradictory stances, which are practical solutions to the oppressive social and political conditions, give rise to new forms and novelistic techniques, especially outside western cultural centres," Pamuk says.

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