Pamuk's first novel, Cevdet Bey and His Sons, appeared in 1982. He achieved best-seller status at home and fame abroad with The White Castle (1985, tr. 1990), a postmodern historical novel set in 17th-century Constantinople (Istanbul) during the decline of the Ottoman Empire. Pamuk subsequently wrote two intellectual mysteries, The New Life (1994, tr. 1997), at once a thriller and a textual exploration set in rural contemporary Turkey, and My Name Is Red (1998, tr. 2001), a taut and magical story concerning a murdered 16th-century miniaturist. In Snow (2002, tr. 2004), an elaborately plotted tale of love and politics, he treats the clash of values between theocratic Islamists and secular Westernizers in late 20th cent. Turkey. The Museum of Innocence (2009) centers on the conflicts between obsessive love and the pressures of tradition and between erotic desire and social approval; it also is a portrait of Istanbul in the 1970s. His other novels include The Silent House (1983) and The Black Book (1990, tr. 1994, 2006). Istanbul: Memories and the City, a memoir of his youth, was published in 2005.
Pamuk is also an essayist, e.g., Other Colors: Essays and a Story (2007), and a human-rights activist with a particular interest in the rights of Turkish women and Kurds. In 2005 he was charged with denigrating Turkey's national character by publicly stating that a million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds had been killed in Turkey, a reference to the 1915 Armenian genocide and more recent Kurdish conflicts. In the face of severe criticism, much of it from the European Union, the charges were later dropped. Nonetheless, Pamuk found himself facing increasing ostracism and harrassment in his beloved hometown, and he now lives mainly in New York.
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