The meeting was organized in Rustaveli Theatre. Lady from the publishing house announced him several times and we gasped but no one entered. Poor woman kept babbling nonsense, when Mr. Pamuk walked in, surrounded by a herd of journalists, like some kind of Benedict Cumberbatch. He walked up the stage and sat in those godawful, maroon-and-gold, squiggly-legged, a-la real housewives of New Jersey chairs.
My Pamuk-reading experience is very location based, just as his novels are. I read Istanbul in Denver, in English, as a part of my I-swear-I-will-read-all-of-the-Nobel-winners quest. It made me homesick, though I’ve never been to Istanbul. It was closer to home than Denver, so instead of looking for Turkey, I was searching for Georgia. Here, this is my neighbor, I thought. We share the same sea. And shit like that.
I did visit Istanbul, on my second honeymoon (wedded to the same person. Long story, see this post). It so happened that I was reading My Name Is Red, in Russian this time. I remember how dazzled I was by Istanbul (two posts here), I loved everything, strong tea, Marmara sea we saw each morning, prayer calls, Blue Mosque, crowds of people on Taksim Square…and as we walked and walked, I read My Name Is Red during short rests. We visited museum of Islamic art and saw Koran manuscripts. I was seeing what I was reading. Funny, how that book feels so much more Istanbul to me than Istanbul ever has.
I went back to Denver and once again, reading about Kars (Snow) in Russian, made me think of home, though the situation was inverted – Georgian liberal minority was trying to revolt against mainstream Orthodox religion. I thought of uneasy relations with god in this part of the world. I also felt like the book, unlike two others, dealt with women characters with sensitivity, respect, made them interesting. Anyway, we visited Kars last summer, just to check out what Mr. Pamuk wrote about and it was totally different. I was really mad at him for a while.
Meanwhile, he talked about my books, my multi-cultural, multi-lingual books. It was so weird, he just wrote them, just sat down, with a pen in his hand, in a quiet room, charted the chapters, like an engineer, avoided writers block, worked hard, a silent clerk, using visual imagery, editing heavily, every day and wrote my goddamn books! He sent out a message, I misinterpreted it, I mixed it up with different countries and different words, and he doesn’t even know!
He was funny. He was very relaxed and funny. Not snobby, not a wiseasss, normal, witty person, talking about his life and my books. My hubby stood with a microphone to ask a question, but never dared. I am not sure my hubby breathed during the whole thing. He has a special love affair with Mr. Pamuk. I don’t even come close.
After the Q&A was over, we poured into the lobby for a book signing. Journalists occupied the first row and defended the table with their cameras like it was a warzone. The crowd boiled and coiled and made horrible noises and absolutely refused to form a line. And this is how we lost opportunity to see Mr. Pamuk in person and ask him for an autograph. He left without us.
I was about to call 4 hotels who could host someone of his importance, when a friend disclosed his dining location. My hubby and I rushed to the restaurant and patiently waited until he finished eating. I was reading White Castle. In Georgian.
He walked out and I sprang on to him and first of all, informed him that we were waiting for him, so he would feel guilty and sign the book J I was desperately afraid he would say “no”, but, tired and probably angry, he was nice and signed our Istanbul. I managed to squeeze in how much I love his books, like he has never heard that before. Hubby was the worst. He just lost his ability to speak. Just gently shook Mr. Pamuk’s hand. He was walking in coma for the rest of the evening, looking at the signature and making sounds. Taking pictures of it. Whispering "my precious".
And this is how I met a real writer. A writer who writes my books.
P.S. His signature!!!!!