For Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk, the second-youngest person to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2006, literature is like religion–a sentiment embodied by his recent novel about social issues in the Middle East.
Pamuk, a novelist, screenwriter and academic, spoke about his political novel Snow on the University of Wisconsin campus as part of the Distinguished Lecture Series hosted by the Wisconsin Union Directorate Monday.
In the novel, Pamuk said he touches on the issues facing Turkey and throughout the world.
“High school students in Wisconsin are much better,” Pamuk said as he compared the students to the best minds and critics that have missed the little things within this novel.
Pamuk said high school students are able to realize his book’s issues, as they are “playful” with their reading and enjoy the novel in their own way.
“Part of the novel is talking about yourself in such a way that allows the reader to think you are talking about others. The other part of the novel is talking about others in such a way that allows the reader to believe that you experienced those things … My Snow is the second kind of novel,” Pamuk said.
Pamuk said when he decided to write the book in Kars, Turkey he feared being surrounded by the political problems facing the Turkish city. Pamuk visited Kars for three years and used interviews with the people to help write about the social problems in the country.
The problems discussed in Snow can be discussed in any country that is confronting modernity, Pamuk said. The problems confronted in the novel, such as whether or not to wear a headscarf, do not have solutions, he said.
“Some people think they have found an answer to these questions, but there are no answer to these questions … but once someone comes up, ‘I have a solution to that problem,’ my impression is that soon that person will be part of that problem,” he said.
Pamuk said Snow, which is focused on head-scarfed girls, was not his “regular readers” favorite, because he wrote about problems many people are unwilling to discuss.
Novels do not consist of right or wrong, Pamuk said.
“[Novels] are a space where you let others speak to illustrate their point or feel, and you put that frame to the whole thing, then the more or less that’s the beauty of the novelists. Then you investigate the truth, explore the truth and form a whole about the problem or what you want to tackle,” Pamuk said.