What drew me to the streets of
A Turkish novelist who fails to imagine the Kurds and other minorities, and who neglects to illuminate the black-spots in his country's unspoken history, will, in my view, produce work that has a hole at its centre.
Pamuk’s problems don’t restrict themselves to a writer’s need for looking grim realities in the face. He must also be a keeper of truth and conscience. His country
Pamuk says it’s a novelist’s task to imagine other realities, to delve into the minds of the silenced, the oppressed, the victimized, and give them a voice. Empathy: a singular quality that every writer must possess. Vikram Seth had shared similar sentiments in an interview a few days back, saying that half the world’s problems would vanish if we only learnt to put ourselves in others’ shoes. For Pamuk, the larger political implication of the trial is only a distant addendum to his solitary fight for the soul of the novelist.
The political tone of the article doesn’t take from some of the thrills of reading that Pamuk outlines for us. He also delves into how the act of reading is as transforming as that of writing:
We have all known the thrill of going down the path that leads into someone else's world, and engaging with that world, and longing to change it, as we engross ourselves in the hero's culture, in his relationship with the objects that make up his world, in the words the author uses, in the decisions he makes and the things he notices as the story unfolds.
Sometimes I try to conjure up, one by one, a multitude of readers hidden away in corners and nestled in their armchairs; I try also to imagine the geography of their everyday lives. Then, before my eyes, thousands, tens of thousands of readers will take shape, stretching far and wide across the streets of the city, and as they read, they dream the author's dreams, and imagine his heroes into being, and see his world. So now these readers, like the author himself, are trying to imagine the other; they, too, are putting themselves in another's place.
Even if we have picked up a novel hoping only to divert ourselves, and relax, and escape the boredom of everyday life, we begin, without realising, to conjure up the collectivity, the nation, the society to which we belong.