Orhan Pamuk Resumes German Book Tour After Death Threats

Brigitte Neumann (kjb)

Deutsche Welle, Germany
May 3 2007

After having to cancel his German book tour due to death threats
in February, Turkish author Orhan Pamuk has finally set out across
Germany to present his latest autobiographical work "Istanbul."

The Nobel Prize winner began his book tour Wednesday evening in
Hamburg. Two and a half months earlier, Orhan Pamuk had called off
his appearance there after receiving public death threats from Turkish

Hamburg’s Deutsches Schauspielhaus was bursting at the seams and extra
chairs had to be pulled in. Some were curious to learn more about the
cancellation of the February book tour, while others came to hear the
55-year-old author’s opinion on the current political turmoil in his
home country.

Yet the evening turned out completely differently than expected.

No mention of death threats

Pamuk didn’t say a word about February’s cancellation, which happened
after his friend, Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, was shot and killed
on an Istanbul street on January 19. The perpetrators then warned
Pamuk, in front of rolling cameras, to be cautious.

Their warning referred to an interview the author had given in which
he’d said: "30,000 Kurds and one million Armenians were murdered in
Turkey and not a single person talks about it. So I have to."

Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift:
Pamuk has been vocal about the Armenian genocide in Turkey following
World War One Since then, Pamuk has feared for his life. He devoted
Wednesday evening to his new book "Istanbul."

In the autobiographical narrative, Pamuk weaves together the
story of the city with that of his family. Since both are marked by
disintegration, huzun — the Turkish word for collective melancholy —
plays an important role in the book.

"This collective feeling of huzun has to do with loss, the loss of
the former kingdom," said Pamuk through an interpreter Wednesday in
Hamburg. "It’s also about the feeling of living on the border to the
West. On the other side of the border there are wealthy countries
and on this side we’re so poor."

The bridge builder

Pamuk has been called a "bridge builder between the Orient and the

"Even though it’s not my job, I do it anyway because I don’t want the
East and the West, Islam and Europe to be in conflict," he said. "I
don’t want that, because I belong to both."

Although Pamuk didn’t mention the recent death threats, in the end
he didn’t need to. The half-dozen well-built men standing silently
behind the author while he autographed books spoke volumes for his
experiences over the past few months.

In what might be called prescience, in his Nobel Prize speech in 2006,
Pamuk said: "It’s a known harbinger of dark and foolish times in a
country when books are burned and writers are humiliated."

Orhan Pamuk’s "Istanbul: Memories and the City" is also available in
English. It was published by Vintage in 2006.


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