Past should not be in the museum: Orhan Pamuk

Aman Kanth

Jaipur: If you don’t know him, chances are that you might not even recognise one of Turkey’s most prolific and celebrated authors Orhan Pamuk. Dressed up in crisp formals, be-speckled Pamuk cuts a dapper figure.

In conversation with Chandrahas Choudhury at the front lawns of the Day 1 of Jaipur Literary Festival 2011 at Diggi Palace, Pamuk spoke about one of his most famous novels – ‘My Name Is Red’ (1988), which also won him the IMPAC (2003) award in Dublin. Orhan Pamuk is also the recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize for literature.

Speaking at the literary session, Pamuk was at his frank and jovial best as he expressed his great joy to be in India, especially at the festival.

‘My Name Is Red’ is a celebrated piece of meta-fiction which traces the history of Ottoman Empire. Following are the excerpts of the session:

Choudhury: How did you come about with ‘My Name Is Red’?

Pamuk: ‘My Name Is Red’ is about the growth of the Persian culture and its future way back from the sixteenth century. I wanted to explore everything in the novel, new ways of seeing things and baffling culture exchange. The novel is about the search of continuity of my past and embracing modernity. I believe that past is not something which should be kept in the museum, but something which should be alive. It’s a rhetoric of belonging, it’s a source of personal inspiration.

Choudhury: I am always impressed by the level of your ideas…

Pamuk: While writing ‘My Name Is Red’, I researched and re-researched. I was trying to see sufi culture in a secular way, experimenting with forms of modernism.

Choudhury: On your feminist critics….

Pamuk: Well, I write about men what they do to when they are terribly in love with women.

Choudhury: And on art of the novel…

Pamuk: Novels are deeply entertaining and show the capacity of human mind. Our cultures might be different, but human heart is the same everywhere. I want to dramatise human mind.

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