14 May 2012

Orhan Pamuk is awarded the 2012 Sonning Prize


The Turkish author Orhan Pamuk is awarded the 2012 Sonning Prize. The Sonning Prize is Denmark’s largest cultural award (DKK 1 million) and is given every other year by the University of Copenhagen for commendable work that benefits European culture.

Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk. Photo: Valentina Petrova - Polfoto

The turkish author Orhan Pamuk.
Photo: Valentina Petrova - Polfoto

The 59-year-old Orhan Pamuk who comes from Istanbul is one of Turkey’s most important modern writers. A recurrent theme of his authorship is the contrast between East and West. A contrast which, according to Orhan Pamuk, should be regarded as an advantage rather than a conflict to be solved. His work contains a strong belief in a Europe with fewer cultural boundaries, an inclusive Europe that does not choose between East and West but instead attempts to unite the two. The nomination to the Sonning Prize states:

- Orhan Pamuk’s largest contribution to European culture is his obvious challenge of the cultural boundaries and his clarification of the many possibilities that lie within crossing those boundaries.

A cultural bridge builder

As an author Orhan Pamuk is dedicated to the western novel tradition while also being a truly Turkish author. He writes in Turkish and focuses on his country’s past and present addressing typical Turkish issues. He actively uses his authorship to tell the story of Turkey’s search of identity and the country’s movement towards becoming a more modern and westerly orientated nation. From a western point of view Pamuk’s interest in topics such as cultural change and multicultural co-existence makes his authorship particularly interesting and relevant.

Pamuk’s first novel Cevdet Bey and his Sons was published in 1982 and tells the story of three generations of a wealthy family from the author’s own home district in Istanbul. With universal topics such as love, marriage, friendship, happiness and religion, the recognized author has reached a broad, international audience long ago, and his books have been translated into more than 60 different languages. His international breakthrough came while he was staying in the USA in the mid-80s. This happened with the novel The Black Book , which later (2006) was also published in Danish. 2006 was also the year when Orhan Pamuk could add the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature to his collection of international awards. That Prize was given to him for his novel Snow .

As a critical intellectual Orhan Pamuk is regarded a controversial character in his home country. However, while his political viewpoints are expressed directly in essays and interviews, his novels have a tendency to reflect his political engagement only indirectly. Read more about Orhan Pamuk at his own website .

The 2012 Sonning Prize is awarded on the 26th of October in the Ceremonial Hall at the University of Copenhagen.

About the Sonning Prize

Read about the Sonning Prize and previous recipients at the Sonning website .


Senior executive advisor Charlotte Autzen, mobile +45 28 75 42 64