Orhan Pamuk 'ridiculing' Atatürk in latest novel, says columnist

Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk has ridiculed the modern founder and first president of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, in his latest novel, Hürriyet columnist Ahmet Hakan wrote on Monday.

Hakan claims that a character in the Nobel laureate’s latest book “Nights of Plague’’ (Veba Geceleri), was a jab at Atatürk.

The character in question, Kolağası Kamil, is a ranked military officer, who is described as “having a thin moustache that he combs upward,’’ and being “upset with his mother over her second marriage.’’

The Nights of Plague tells the story of a group of people battling the plague in an imaginary Ottoman island a century ago.

Kamil is described by Pamuk as “eventually becoming a commander while waving a funny flag that bore the emblem of a Rum (Greek) chemist,’’ before becoming president. 

Hakan wrote that for him it was impossible not to think of Atatürk when reading Pamuk’s depiction of Kamil.

But the real question is, the columnist wrote, “what is the reason for Pamuk’s preoccupation with Atatürk?’’ 

Hakan goes on to list the possible motivations for Pamuk’s so-called Atatürk character in his new novel as “stirring the pot, increasing readership, an effort to turn Atatürk into a subject of hate and win a second Nobel prize”, among others.

Pamuk, who in the past was accused of "insulting Turkishness,’’ won the 2006 Nobel prize for literature. He is the first Turk to win the coveted prize. 

Atatürk has been under the protection of the Turkish constitution by the article 5816 since July 1951 and insulting Atatürk is considered a crime in Turkey.