Other Colors Read online




  My Name Is Red

  The White Castle

  The Black Book

  The New Life




  1. The Implied Author

  2. My Father

  3. Notes on April 29, 1994

  4. Spring Afternoons

  5. Dead Tired in the Evening

  6. Out of Bed, in the Silence of Night

  7. When the Furniture Is Talking, How Can You Sleep?

  8. Giving Up Smoking

  9. Seagull in the Rain

  10. A Seagull Lies Dying on the Shore

  11. To Be Happy

  12. My Wristwatches

  13. I’m Not Going to School

  14. Rüya and Us

  15. When Rüya Is Sad

  16. The View

  17. What I Know About Dogs

  18. A Note on Poetic Justice

  19. After the Storm

  20. In This Place Long Ago

  21. The House of the Man Who Has No One

  22. Barbers

  23. Fires and Ruins

  24. Frankfurter

  25. Bosphorus Ferries

  26. The Islands

  27. Earthquake

  28. Earthquake Angst in Istanbul


  29. How I Got Rid of Some of My Books

  30. On Reading: Words or Images

  31. The Pleasures of Reading

  32. Nine Notes on Book Covers

  33. To Read or Not to Read: The Thousand and One Nights

  34. Foreword to Tristram Shandy: Everyone Should Have an Uncle Like This

  35. Victor Hugo’s Passion for Greatness

  36. Dostoyevsky’s Notes from Underground: The Joys of Degradation

  37. Dostoyevsky’s Fearsome Demons

  38. The Brothers Karamazov

  39. Cruelty, Beauty, and Time: On Nabokov’s Ada and Lolita

  40. Albert Camus

  41. Reading Thomas Bernhard in a Time of Unhappiness

  42. The World of Thomas Bernhard’s novels

  43. Mario Vargas Llosa and Third World Literature

  44. Salman Rushdie: The Satanic Verses and the Freedom of the Writer


  45. Pen Arthur Miller Speech

  46. No Entry

  47. Where Is Europe?

  48. A Guide to Being Mediterranean

  49. My First Passport and Other European Journeys

  50. André Gide

  51. Family Meals and Politics on Religious Holidays

  52. The Anger of the Damned

  53. Traffic and Religion

  54. In Kars and Frankfurt

  55. On Trial

  56. Who Do You Write For?


  57. The White Castle Afterword

  58. The Black Book: Ten Years On

  59. A Selection from Interviews on The New Life

  60. A Selection from Interviews on My Name Is Red

  61. On My Name Is Red

  62. From the Snow in Kars Notebooks


  63. Şirin’s Surprise

  64. In the Forest and as Old as the World

  65. Murders by Unknown Assailants and Detective Novels

  66. Entr’acte; or, Ah, Cleopatra!

  67. Why Didn’t I Become An Architect?

  68. Selimiye Mosque

  69. Bellini and the East

  70. Black Pen

  71. Meaning


  72. My First Encounters with Americans

  73. Views from the Capital of the World





  This is a book made of ideas, images, and fragments of life that have still not found their way into one of my novels. I have put them together here in a continuous narrative. Sometimes it surprises me that I have not been able to fit into my fiction all the thoughts I’ve deemed worth exploring: life’s odd moments, the little everyday scenes I’ve wanted to share with others, and the words that issue from me with power and joy when there is an occasion of enchantment. Some fragments are autobiographical; some I wrote very fast; others were left to one side when my attention was elsewhere. I return to them in much the same way that I return to old photographs, and—though I rarely reread my novels—I enjoy rereading these essays. What I most like are the moments when they rise above the occasion, when they do more than just meet the requirements of the magazines and newspapers that commissioned them, saying more about my interests, my enthusiasms, than I intended at the time. To describe such epiphanies, such curious moments when truth is somehow illuminated, Virginia Woolf once used the term “moments of being.”

  Between 1996 and 1999 I wrote weekly sketches for Öküz (Ox), a magazine devoted to politics and humor, and I illustrated them as I saw fit. These were short lyrical essays written in one sitting, and I very much enjoyed talking about my daughter and my friends, exploring objects and the world with fresh eyes, and seeing the world in words. Over time, I have come to see the work of literature less as narrating the world than “seeing the world with words.” From the moment he begins to use words like colors in a painting, a writer can begin to see how wondrous and surprising the world is, and he breaks the bones of language to find his own voice. For this he needs paper, a pen, and the optimism of a child looking at the world for the first time.

  I gathered up these pieces to form a totally new book with an autobiographical center. I discarded many fragments and shortened others, taking only excerpts from my hundreds of articles and journals and assigning quite a few essays to strange locations that seemed to fit the arc of that story. For example, the three speeches that have been published as a separate volume in Turkish and many other languages under the title My Father’s Suitcase (containing the Nobel lecture of the same name, as well as “In Kars and Frankfurt,” the speech I gave to mark the German Peace Prize, and “The Implied Author,” the speech I gave at the Puter-baugh Conference) appear here in separate sections to reflect the same autobiographical story.

  This edition of Other Colors was built from the same skeleton as the book of the same name first published in Istanbul in 1999, but the earlier book took the form of a collection, while this book is shaped as a sequence of autobiographical fragments, moments, and thoughts. To talk about Istanbul, or to discuss my favorite books, authors, and paintings, has for me always been an excuse to talk about life. My New York pieces date from 1986, when I was visiting the city for the first time, and I wrote them to record the first impressions of a foreigner, with Turkish readers in mind. “To Look out the Window,” the story at the end of the book, is so autobiographical that the hero’s name might well have been Orhan. But the older brother in the story is, like the older brothers in all my stories, evil and tyrannical, bearing no relation to my real older brother, şevket Pamuk, the eminent economic historian. When I was putting together this book, I noticed with consternation that I had a special interest in and predisposition toward natural disasters (the earthquake) and social disasters (politics), and so I left out quite a few of my darker political writings. I have always believed there to be a greedy and almost implacable graphomaniac inside me—a creature who can never write enough, who is forever setting life in words—and that to make him happy I need to keep writing. But when I was putting this book together, I discovered that the graphomaniac would be much happier, and less pained by his writing illness, if he worked with an editor who gave his writin