Tuesday, 9 January 2007

Pamuk pens his penseesOrhan Pamuk, Nobel prize-winner last year, has been given the opportunity to be a journalist — for a day. The Turkish newspaper Radikal gave the writer front-page control, reports The Guardian.

Pamuk used the opportunity to make some sweeping statements about the treatment the Turkish government metes out to intellectuals, especially those who differ in their ideas from the broadly-held norm.

Novelist and Nobel prize winner Orhan Pamuk devoted the front page of a major Turkish newspaper on Sunday to the oppression of artists in his native country, fulfilling an old dream of becoming a professional journalist, if only for a day.


Pamuk's cover story criticized the Turkish press and the state for the suppression of free expression in Turkey. His banner headline quoted a 1951 article about the Turkish intellectual Nazim Hikmet, an acclaimed poet and denounced communist who spent many years in prison in Turkey for his leftist affiliations and later died in exile in Moscow. His sorrowful exile from his beloved country inspired many of his best-known poems. The 1951 article had featured Hikmet's photograph along with an encouragement for the Turkish public to recognize him and "spit in his face."

This event demonstrates that the freedoms that are taken for granted in liberal, Western countries like Australia remain aspirations in many nations, even those, like Turkey, which aspire themselves to become more Western.

It's a bit of a joke. Nevertheless, the good that the decision of the Nobel committee has done, still has to mature before all its fruit will be borne.

"This expression ["spit in his face"], which was used beside Nazim Hikmet's picture, summarizes the unchanging position of writers and artists in the eyes of the state and the press," Pamuk's cover story said.

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