Room with a view: Orhan Pamuk explores Istanbul’s double soul

September 30, 2010


(Photo: Orhan Pamuk at the International Book Fair in Guadalajara, November 28, 2009/Alejandro Acosta)

From his Istanbul window, the Nobel-winning Turkish author Orhan Pamuk sees a city in flux.

Gleaming steel towers that signify Istanbul’s new economic power rise in the distance, rivalling more familiar views of old mosques and palaces, home to the former Ottoman dynasty. Teeming suburbs spread across hills.

Pamuk, Turkey’s most celebrated artist, has explored his country’s struggle with tradition and modernity and its identity as a land that straddles East and West in novels infused with “huzun”, a Turkish word that refers to melancholy or spiritual loss.

A power shift led by a new class of observant Muslims from the heartland is redrawing the notions in place since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk established Turkey as a secular republic in 1923 on the ruins of the defeated Ottoman Empire.

Is Turkey’s secularism on the retreat? Is Islam’s influence and power growing? Is Turkey drifting away from the West?

“For 200 years, Turks tried to change their civilisation by making Turkey more Westernised. This conflict continues today and has formed the modern Turkish soul,” Pamuk said.

Read the full story here.

Follow FaithWorld on Twitter at RTRFaithWorld

No comments so far

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see