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Orhan Pamuk and the IFOA audience revolt

Orhan Pamuk seems to cause a bit of a stir wherever he goes. The Nobel Prize-winning Turkish novelist is perhaps best-known on these shores for his legal battles with the Turkish government over remarks he made concerning the Armenian genocide and the killing of Kurds. The fight, which he ultimately won, made him a symbol of the struggle for free speech around the world.

So it was perhaps only natural that, during Pamuk’s onstage interview Thursday night as part of the International Festival of Authors, interviewer Carol Off would ask him to discuss the current political situation in Turkey. Apparently, Pamuk was reluctant to talk politics, and even said he preferred not to do so as part of a “talk show.” When Off persisted, members of the audience began yelling for her to stick to the subject of Pamuk’s new book. One attendee, who was sympathetic to Off, said he’d “never seen an audience revolt before.”

There were also reports that Pamuk arrived at the event only minutes before it was to begin, and had to walk past the long line of ticket-holders waiting outside the venue, some of whom, not recognizing the author (we hope), shouted for him to get in line like everyone else.

Tough crowd.