Congratulations, Orhan Pamuk
Orhan Pamuk, the Turkish novelist was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature yesterday. I recently read his Istanbul: Memories and the City, which I greatly enjoyed, but I have yet to read any of his novels. His works focus on the dichotomies Turkey faces--Europe and Asia, Muslim and secular, Ataturk and the Ottomans, Istanbul and Constantinople. Turkey is in many ways the great hope of the Muslim world (a secular, Western, democracy), but it is imperfect at all of these things. Pamuk's work brings out the roots of these imperfections.
Having visited Istanbul with Mrs. Bartender last year, let me just say that it is one of the most spectacular cities I have ever seen. The dichotomies Pamuk writes of certainly create problems for Turkish identity and its future, but they also make the city fascinating culturally, architecturally, and gastronomically. Parts of it make you feel like you could be in San Francisco and at other times Cairo. We can't wait to return and explore much more of Turkey.