Orhan Pamuk Biography

Orhan Pamuk, the renowned Turkish author, has made a significant impact on the literary world with his thought-provoking novels such as ‘My Name is Red’, ‘The Museum of Innocence’, and ‘Snow’. His remarkable success includes selling over eleven million books in sixty different languages and being awarded the prestigious Nobel Prize for Literature. Pamuk’s works not only reflect his dreamy philosophies and Turkish heritage but also shed light on societal issues. Despite facing trials and assassination attempts for expressing his opinions, Pamuk continues to challenge the status quo and expose the degradation of Turkish society. Currently a professor at the University of Columbia, he has recently joined the postmodern literature movement.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: Ferit Orhan Pamuk
  • Age: 71 Years, 71 Year Old Males
  • Family: Spouse/Ex-: Aylin Türegün (m. 1982, div. 2001), Kiran Desai
  • Siblings: evket Pamuk, Hümeyra Pamuk (half-sister)
  • Children: Rüya
  • Born Country: Turkey
  • Quotes By Orhan Pamuk
  • Nobel Laureates In Literature
  • Height: 5’4″ (163 cm), 5’4″ Males
  • City: Istanbul, Turkey
  • More Facts
  • Education: Robert College Secondary School, University of Istanbul, Istanbul Technical University
  • Awards:
    • 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature
    • 1979 – Milliyet Press Novel Contest Award (Turkey) for his novel Karanlık ve Işık (co-winner)
    • 1983 – Orhan Kemal Novel Prize (Turkey) for his novel Cevdet Bey ve Oğulları
    • 1984 – Madarali Novel Prize (Turkey) for his novel Sessiz Ev
    • 1990 – Independent Foreign Fiction Prize (United Kingdom) for his novel Beyaz Kale
    • 1991 – Prix de la Découverte Européenne (France) for the French edition of Sessiz Ev : La Maison de Silence
    • 1991 – Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival (Turkey) for Best Original Screenplay
    • 1995 – Prix France Culture (France) for his novel
    • 2002 – Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger (France) for his novel
    • 2002 – Premio Grinzane Cavour (Italy) for his novel
    • 2003 – International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (Ireland) for his novel
    • 2005 – Peace Prize of the German Book Trade
    • 2005 – Prix Médicis étranger (France) for his novel
    • 2006 – Washington University’s Distinguished Humanist Award
    • 2006 – Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
    • 2008 – Ovidius Prize
    • 2010 – Norman Mailer Prize Lifetime Achievement
    • 2012 – Sonning Prize

Childhood & Early Life

Orhan Pamuk was born in Istanbul and was raised in a wealthy family. He was educated at Robert College secondary school and then went on to study architecture at the Istanbul Technical University. After three years, he left architecture school and focused his energies on writing. Thereafter, he shifted to the Institute of Journalism at the University of Istanbul and graduated from there in 1976. Soon, he began writing his first novel, ‘Darkness and Light’, while living with his mother.


His first novel, ‘Darkness and Light’ went on to become a co-winner of the 1979 Milliyet Press Novel Contest, along with Mehmet Eroglu. He won a number of critical prizes for his early work, which motivated him to write more. He authored the historical novel, ‘The White Castle’ in 1985, which also received numerous awards. His reputation began to soar around this time and extended beyond the geographical boundaries of Turkey.

In 1990, he authored ‘The Black Book’, which became one of the most popular yet the most controversial reads at the time. Following the success of this novel, he went on to write the screenplay for the movie, ‘Secret Face’, based on this novel. By this time, Pamuk had already become a high-profile celebrity in Turkey.

In 1995, he published his book of essays, titled, ‘Other Colors’ which augmented his international reputation. It sky-rocketed even more with the publication of ‘My Name is Red’, which is also considered to be one of his greatest works. One book after another, Pamuk was gaining immense popularity, which increased manifold with the publication of ‘Snow’ in 2002. Around this time, he also began to dabble with writing memoirs and travelogues and produced ‘Istanbul-Memories and the City’ in 2005.

In 2005, he made a statement about the Armenian Genocide, for which he was prosecuted. Although the charges were dropped on January 22, 2006, angry protesters and large mobs threatened to kill him and many of his works were even burnt. In 2007, he was invited to be one of the jury members at the Cannes Film Festival.

In 2008, he completed his novel, The Museum of Innocence- it was the first novel he published after receiving the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2006. In 2008, he went to the United States to teach comparative literature at the University of Columbia. He was also a writer-in-residence at Bard College around the same time.

Awards & Achievements

Orhan Pamuk was conferred the prestigious ‘International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award’ in 2003. He was awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature. He was awarded the Sonning Prize for his literary contributions in 2012.

Personal Life & Legacy

On March 1, 1982, he married Aylin Turegun, a historian and they have a daughter, Ruya. However, their marriage ended in a divorce in 2001. In 2010, he publicly announced that he was in a relationship with the Man Booker Prize-recipient, Kiran Desai.


This award-winning Turkish novelist often uses his elder brother, Sevket, as a fictional character in his works.

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