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A Day in the Life: Istanbul: Memories and the City
Tuesday, May 6, 2014 - 6:15pm
A Day in the Life: Istanbul: Memories and the City

Multnomah County Library Central Library, U.S. Bank Room, 810 SW 10th Avenue

Featuring a discussion with Pelin Basci, Portland State University Associate Professor of Turkish

About the Book

Orhan Pamuk presents the reader with the interesting story of the city of Istanbul he knows in a novel form, combining it with his own life story until the age of 22. This story heads from Pamuk’s first feelings related to his mother, his father and his family, and as a source of happiness and sadness, opens out to the streets of Istanbul. As we discover Istanbul’s streets in 1950s, the roads with cobblestones, ruined blasted wooden mansions, the difficulties of the disappearance of an old culture while a new culture rises out of the ashes and shambles of it, we can follow swiftly the evolution of Pamuk’s spiritual world as if we’re reading a detective novel. In this unique piece that searches Istanbul’s black-white melancholy, we find the unity of soul and emotions special to some books which we read time after time.

Free copies of the book will be available in advance to a limited number of participants.

About the Author

Orhan Pamuk was born in Istanbul in 1952 and grew up in a large family similar to those which he describes in his novels Cevdet Bey and His Sons and The Black Book, in the wealthy westernised district of Nisantasi. As he writes in his autobiographical book Istanbul, from his childhood until the age of 22 he devoted himself largely to painting and dreamed of becoming an artist. After graduating from the secular American Robert College in Istanbul, he studied architecture at Istanbul Technical University for three years, but abandoned the course when he gave up his ambition to become an architect and artist. He went on to graduate in journalism from Istanbul University, but never worked as a journalist. At the age of 23 Pamuk decided to become a novelist, and giving up everything else retreated into his flat and began to write.

Orhan Pamuk’s books have been translated into 46 languages, including Georgian, Malayan, Czech, Danish, Japanese, Catalan, as well as English, German and French. Pamuk has been awarded The Peace Prize, considered the most prestigious award in Germany in the field of culture, in 2005. In the same year, Snow received the Le Prix Médicis étranger, the award for the best foreign novel in France. Again in 2005, Pamuk was honoured with the Richarda Huck Prize, awarded every three years since 1978 to personalities who “think independently and act bravely.” In the same year, he was named among world’s 100 intellectuals by Prospect magazine. In 2006, TIME magazine chose him as one of the 100 most influential persons of the world. In September 2006, he won the Le Prix Méditerranée étranger for his novel Snow. Pamuk is an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and holds an honorary doctorate from Tilburg University. He is an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters as well as the Chiese Academy for Social Sciences. Pamuk gives lectures once a year in Columbia University. Lastly, he received the 2006 Nobel Prize for Literature, becoming the second youngest person to receive the award in its history.

Apart from three years in New York, Orhan Pamuk has spent all his life in the same streets and district of Istanbul, and he now lives in the building where he was raised. Pamuk has been writing novels for 30 years and never done any other job except writing.

Sponsorship

Presented as part of A Day in the Life: Memoirs from the Middle East, a book club series which aims to dispel common stereotypes of the Middle East by exploring literature from the region.  The rich narratives, stimulating detail and enchanting dialogue of the selected memoirs will draw readers in and provide new perspectives on the Middle East, beyond war and politics.  Through interactive and participatory book club discussions, readers will engage with the text, with experts and authors, and each other to explore the diversity of daily life in the Middle East and consider both the similarities to and differences from our own lives in Oregon.

A Day in the Life is presented by the Multnomah County Library and the Portland State University Department of English and Centers for Public Humanities and Middle East Studies and was made possible in part by a grant from Oregon Humanities, a statewide nonprofit organization and an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, which funds Oregon Humanities’ grant program. Any views, findings, and conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily reflect the views of Oregon Humanities or the National endowment for the Humanities.

The Portland State University Department of English offers a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate courses to meet the needs of students with a diversity of interests, and academic and professional backgrounds. The department offers courses in literature, rhetoric, composition, and critical theory and emphasizes intertextual and cross-disciplinary inquiry represented by many cultures and historical periods.

The Portland Center for the Public Humanities (PCPH) coordinates, promotes and supports rigorous humanistic inquiry into the languages, histories, and ideas that both shape our ways of life and offer a means of positively transforming them. PCPH’s mission is to connect the scholarly community of PSU with the city, and its programs have focused on topics vital to public life. PCPH programming has examined topics such as sustainability and the humanities; the prison industrial complex; Holocaust and genocide studies; and religion and secularism.

The Portland State University Middle East Studies Center promotes understanding of the people, cultures, languages and religions of the Middle East. As a National Resource Center for Middle East Studies under the U.S. Department of Education’s Title VI program, the Center serves as a resource on issues pertaining to the Middle East through activities that reach students and scholars, as well as businesses, educators, and the media. The Middle East Studies Center supports academic conferences, workshops, cultural events, lectures, and a resource library.  

Multnomah County Library (MCL) is the oldest and largest public library in Oregon, serving nearly 20% of the state’s population (approximately 724,000 residents).  MCL cardholders are voracious consumers of the Library’s collection, checking out over 33 items per person in 2011-12, the highest circulation of all libraries serving populations of fewer than one million. MCL hosted more than 22,000 events during the last year, including monthly meetings of 27 book discussion groups.  More than 300,000 residents attended library programs. The community is eager for connection and learning – visiting the Library online or in person nearly 35,000 times each day in 2011-12.  This November, nearly 63% of voters in the County voted to establish a library district, providing permanent, stable funding for this well-loved and well-used institution. MCL is guided by three pillars that define its role in and value to the community, which guides how MCL builds its collection and develop and present programming: 1) A free resource for all, 2) A trusted guide for learning, 3) The leading advocate for reading.