Orhan Pamuk is a Nobel Prize winner, he is 66 years old, he has reasons to feel sad (his country, where they imprison those who want to practice freedom of expression), but he seeks happiness. With zeal. Through writing. His family wanted him to be a painter or architect, but he rebelled, he wanted his imagination to go directly from the brain to the pen, and thus he has written books in which extraordinary things happen that seem simple in difficult, dark or sad environments.
His latest novel is The woman with the red hair (Random House Literature), and before published two works considered teachers of his imagination and his memory, the elements that make up the baggage of his writing. Those works were Istanbul Y The Museum of Innocence, perhaps the most important of his creations.
Pamuk spoke of these things on the second morning of FIL, in a crowded auditorium and not always in silence, which caused the writer's discomfort, of a soft and even naive and sentimental nature, as defined in one of his books. While presented by the president of FIL, Raúl Padilla, he entertained himself by videotaping the audience, among which sat his companion, Aisle, to whom he dedicated his latest novel. It was Jorge Volpi, his Mexican colleague, who was in charge of making him speak in an interview that focused on happiness as the subject he pursues, the subject that makes him write. His intervention was the opening of the Carlos Fuentes Literary Hall, which the FIl has dedicated for some years to one of its most active protagonists. It was Silvia Lemus, his widow, who honored the Nobel with the emblem that distinguishes those who have intervened in this annual chair.
He does not consider himself an Istanbul writer, "but I am, people consider me that"
Pamuk spoke, enthusiastically at times and enraged by the noise on the part of the public, of what has led him to writing. He does not need to be a happy writer, but a happy person. As a child he was trained to be alone in his room, and that could have been possible as a painter and he has in fact been a writer. He never trusted inspiration, because writing is like bridges, stone by stone; in the face of inspiration he opposes "stubbornness, patience, work. And I'm very impatient. " In his first books, close to his childhood full of stories, is that inaugural age of life, his friends, his relatives, his neighbors. And there is, of course, Istanbul. He does not consider himself an Istanbul writer, "but I am, people consider me that." To become a writer who takes into account the local but aspires to the universal had an invaluable help in the boom Latin American, especially in Juan Rulfo and Gabriel García Márquez, who, as he did with Istanbul, came to the abstraction of the places starting from really existing places. To those writers he joined, to the liking of the Mexican audience, the names of Carlos Fuentes and Octavio Paz.
There is more background in his writing. There are Jorge Luis Borges and Italo Calvino. They took him to the classics. Borges, in particular, taught me to imagine literature as a mystic and to use in the modern era old stories that form the metaphor of new writings. " The death of Artemio Cruz de Fuentes and the works of García Márquez and Vargas Llosa complete, in part, their literary education traversed by names in Spanish. "The boom He explained that he could be universal and local at the same time. " Vladimir Nabokov learned "acrobatics", and are essential in his backpack Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Proust and Thomas Mann.
The matter that saddens him is an unavoidable one: "Turkey's, without freedom of expression, there is no democracy; in my country, writers and journalists are imprisoned by thousands ". That disturbs him, makes him an unhappy man. Writing is happy. Write, he said starting a string of reasons to do so, "because I want to read books that I would have liked to write; because my religion is literature, and not any other; because I like to be read; because I believe in the immortality of bookstores; because I want to escape from my dreams; because I never manage to be happy. "
"To be happy is to lead a full life." He feels it in the room, alone, "I prepared myself to be like that from my childhood". Happiness is to fulfill a series of values, among them "sex, money, family, patriotism, harmony, hierarchy …" When he begins to write he is aware that a novel does not depend on a fact, but on all the components that come to visit that solitary room. By the time he said all this, the noise of the room, to Pamuk's delight, had subsided.