Pamuk, 54, who gained international acclaim for books including ''Snow,'' ''Istanbul,'' and ''My Name is Red,'' went on trial last year for telling a Swiss newspaper in February 2005 that Turkey was unwilling to deal with the massacre of Armenians during World War I, which Turkey insists was not a planned genocide, and recent guerrilla fighting in Turkey's overwhelmingly Kurdish southeast.Hoarse Engdahl, the head of the Swedish Academy that awards the prize, said the controversy had nothing to do with the decision to award him the prize.
''Thirty-thousand Kurds and 1 million Armenians were killed in these lands, and nobody but me dares to talk about it,'' he said in the interview.
''It could of course lead to some political turbulence but we are not interested in that,'' Engdahl said. ''He is a controversial person in his own country, but on the other hand so are almost all of our prizewinners.''Which is why we don't believe you when you say it has no effect on the decision... But, anyway, I like the support for Pamuk.
If you want to read something of his, read his New Yorker piece about his trial:
My detractors were not motivated just by personal animosity, nor were they expressing hostility to me alone; I already knew that my case was a matter worthy of discussion in both Turkey and the outside world. This was partly because I believed that what stained a country’s “honor” was not the discussion of the black spots in its history but the impossibility of any discussion at all. But it was also because I believed that in today’s Turkey the prohibition against discussing the Ottoman Armenians was a prohibition against freedom of expression, and that the two matters were inextricably linked. Comforted as I was by the interest in my predicament and by the generous gestures of support, there were also times when I felt uneasy about finding myself caught between my country and the rest of the world....
As tomorrow’s novelists prepare to narrate the private lives of the new élites, they are no doubt expecting the West to criticize the limits that their states place on freedom of expression. But these days the lies about the war in Iraq and the reports of secret C.I.A. prisons have so damaged the West’s credibility in Turkey and in other nations that it is more and more difficult for people like me to make the case for true Western democracy in my part of the world.
ADDED: Jeff Weintraub observes that the prize "seems like a happy ending for [Pamuk], at least for the moment. But the larger issues remain, both for Turkey and for the rest of us."