June 15, 2019
Turkish Nobel laureate novelist Orhan Pamuk says he longs for a “trustworthy Iranian publisher” and a “commanding Persian translator” to enjoy translating and publishing his work for Iranian audiences.
Sadly, Pamuk says, there is no such publisher or translator in Iran at the moment.
His remarks were published after the Iranian publishing house Chesmeh announced it would be Pamuk’s sole “official publisher” in Iran. Speaking to the state-run Mehr News Agency on June 10, Pamuk insisted he had no favorite publisher in Iran.
Talking about his latest novel, Nights of Plague, and his wish to simultaneously publish it in Persian and Turkish, Pamuk said, “Whoever is interested in translating my latest novel into Persian may contact my agent in London or Cheshmeh and Qoqnoos publishing houses in Iran.”
The winner of the Nobel literature award in 2006, Pamuk is one of the most popular novelists in the Persian-speaking world.
Many of the novels by the 67-year-old Pamuk have been translated into Persian and published by different publishers, including Cheshmeh, Qoqnoos, and Niloofar in Iran. His novels are so popular that, in some cases, there have been four different Persian translations of his books available.
Pamuk, who says some of his novels, including My Name is Red and The Black Book, are inspired by Persian culture and literature, visited Iran after winning the Nobel prize in 2006.
His first visit in coincided with Tehran’s International Book Fair, but because of his longstanding support of fellow novelist Salman Rushdie, and under pressures from conservatives, he could not attend public meetings with his fans.
Nevertheless, Pamuk still praises Iranian culture, asserting, “I am so glad that my books are favorite in Iran. Iranian culture is a magnificent one, and my books are highly under the influence of Persian masterpieces created by Iranian poets Rumi, Attar of Nishapur, Ferdowsi, and Nezami.”
Pamuk says the widespread censorship in Iran is “horrendous.”
Pointing out the historical affinities between Turkey and Iran and the fact that he feels at home in Iran, Pamuk refers to his censored, or poorly translated novels, directly addressing Iranian translators: “If you drop an ‘improper’ part (under the censorship), please turn the remaining parts correctly. I prefer a censored but a correctly translated version of my novels to the uncensored but poorly translated ones.”
Nonetheless, Pamuk prefers avoiding expressing a decisive opinion on the quality of the Persian translations of his novels. “As I am not acquainted with the Persian language, I cannot judge the translation of my novels published by Cheshmeh and Qoqnoos,” Pamuk says. “Cheshmeh has published many of my earlier novels through contacting my agent and paying the due copyright, but I have heard that its translations are not good enough.
Nevertheless, I still cannot judge the issue.” Earlier last year, on May 9, 2018, during a press conference organized by his Iranian publisher, Qoqnoos, at Tehran’s Niavaran Cultural Historical Palace, Pamuk had said he feels doubly happy whenever one of his works is published in Persian, but he also felt dissatisfied since Iran had never been party to any of the international copyright conventions.
Writers do not like their works censored even if only one word, Pamuk said after commenting on the censorship of his books in Iran. He added that writers in Iran always face the dilemma of choosing between a censored version of their works and putting them on ice.
Furthermore, he noted that he wants his books to be published based on the international conventions on copyrights and by a single publisher and translator. Orhan Pamuk’s novels have been translated into more than 60 languages.