Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk on Monday won the 2012 Sonning Prize, Denmark’s highest cultural award that honours contributions to European culture.
Orhan Pamuk, 59, was the first Turkish writer to receive the Nobel Literature Prize, in 2006, for his body of work that discusses the clash of Muslim and Western culture in Turkey.
“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,” the jury at the University of Copenhagen said in a statement.
“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,” it said.
The author of “Snow” and “The Black Book” and other novels is a controversial figure in his home country.
His vocal criticism of issues that have long been national taboos has tagged him as renegade and a traitor, including his comments on the mass killings of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire and the ongoing Kurdish conflict in the southeast.
He has been the focus of a campaign backed by Reporters Without Borders for greater freedom in Turkey after becoming a victim of laws that restrict writers’ ability to criticise the country.
He was prosecuted in 2005 for telling a Swiss magazine that 30,000 Kurds and one million Armenians had been killed during World War I under the Ottoman Turks, although the case was dropped on a technicality.
The Sonning Prize is awarded every two years and comes with a one-million-kroner (134,000-euro, $173,000) cheque. Past laureates include German poet, essayist and novelist Hans Magnus Enzensberger and Italian architech Renzo Piano, a co-architects of the Pompidou Centre in Paris.
Pamuk will receive his prize at a reception at the University of Copenhagen on October 26.
[Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk, pictured in April 2012. AFP Photo/Bulent Kilic]