In awarding the 2006 Nobel Prize for Literature to Orhan Pamuk, the Swedish Academy stressed the Turkish author's literary skill. However, analysts and critics see unmistakeable evidence of political motives in the decision. Pamuk has a relatively small body of work for a Nobel laureate, but he has been a literary pioneer in trying to fuse Western and Islamic cultures, and has emerged as an outspoken proponent of free speech inside Turkey.
After the October 12 announcement, Pamuk said in broadcast interview with CNN International that he considered the Nobel Prize as "a sort of recognition of the Turkish language, Turkish culture, and Turkey." He is the first Turk to win a Nobel Prize, and in selecting him, the Swedish Academy appeared to offer a ringing endorsement for both Turkey's integration into Europe, and for the expansion of civil society in Turkey. The academy's statement noted that Pamuk, "in the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city [Istanbul], has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures."
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Mevlut Katik is a London-based journalist and analyst. He is a former BBC correspondent and also worked for The Economist group.