Nobel Prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk was born on June 7, 1952 in Istanbul, Turkey. His father was an engineer, and his family was fairly well-to-do. In school Pamuk studied architecture and journalism at Istanbul Technical University. For three years, from 1985 until 1988, Pamuk lived in the United States. He worked as a researcher at Columbia University in New York. Other than those three years, Pamuk has lived in Turkey, as he does now.
One of Pamuk's recurring themes in his writing is the struggle in Turkey between the old traditional ways of the Ottoman Empire and the influences from the Western world. This theme is present in his first novel, Cevdet Bey Ve Ogullari, published in 1982, a story that follows three generations of a family. His second novel Sessiz Ev published in 1983 in Turkish, then as The House of Silence in 1998 in English, discusses generational differences in a family, while Turkey is on the brink of a civil war. Pamuk's third novel Beyaz Kale, 1985 (The White Castle, 1992), brought him international recognition. Similar in theme to Pamuk's The Black Book, the issue of personality, or identity, is developed in both novels.
In 1994, Pamuk published Yeni Hayat (The New Life, 1996) about a secret book capable of changing the reader's life. Benim Adim Kirmizi (2000) or My Name is Red (2002) is a novel that develops the differences in Turkish and Western societies as they affect an artist. More recently, Pamuk published Kar (2002) translated as Snow (2005), a love story and an exploration of creativity.
Though he does not consider himself a political writer, the Turkish government charged Pamuk with a political crime when he told a Swiss newspaper that thousands of Kurds and a million Armenians have been killed in Turkey. Charges were later dropped after an international protest was arranged against this government action.
Pamuk was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 2006. He is married, and he and his wife have a daughter. The family currently lives in Istanbul.