RESTLESSNESS AND MELANCHOLY by Hubert Spiegel
In a taxi in Cologne, on the way from a hotel to a reading, amidst the bustling crowds of Frankfurt Book Fair, or preparing to appear in Hamburg’s Schauspielhaus with police units outside and a thousand people inside, waiting to hear the author who has put his life in danger by openly criticizing Turkey’s stance to the Armenian and Kurdish questions: Orhan Pamuk often gives the impression that everything is moving just a little too slowly for him. As if to say that life goes on and we can’t fall behind; we have to keep up to make sure we don’t miss out on anything: “After all, nothing can be as astounding as life. Except for writing. Yes, of course, except for writing, the sole consolation.” This is the narrator’s view on life in his novel “The Black Book” and Orhan Pamuk shares this view. His readings in Germany always attract many of his Turkish readers.
At the beginning of 2011, when Pamuk presented the German translation of his debut novel “Cevdet Bey and His Sons” that he had written at the young age of 22, he easily filled the vast halls, whether in Cologne, Stuttgart or Berlin. The reading in the Internationale Kulturfabrik in Hamburg alone attracted 1,200 eager listeners.
Hubert Spiegel is the editor of the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” and has published a range of volumes, including “Welch ein Leben. Marcel Reich-Ranickis Erinnerungen”, “Lieber Lord Chandos. Antworten auf einen Brief”, “Mein Lieblingsbuch”, “Begegnungen mit Marcel Reich-Ranicki” and “Kafkas Sätze”. In 2005 he was awarded the Alfred Kerr Prize for Literary Criticism.
© KulturForum / Hubert Spiegel, Frankfurt am Main, April 2011
Extract from an essay in the booklet accompanying the film series “Human Landscapes – Portraits of Six Turkish Authors”, produced and published by the Turkish-German Forum of Culture.