It is entirely appropriate that Orhan Pamuk has been awarded the 2006 Nobel prize for Literature.
I don't believe critics who say his comments on the Armenian genocide have been influential in his winning this prize.
I predicted a year ago he would one day get it. His work simply deserves it.
My Name is Red and Snow are among the best books I've ever read, and the former rivals novels like 100 Years of Solitude in its poetry, scope, multi-levelled effectiveness and ambition. Not to mention its enjoyablity.
He straddles the difficult terrain between east and west, Islam and Europe with imagination, courage and dignity.
I've seen him speak and exchanged a few words at the Hay Festival. A modest man with a thorough and complete approach to his work, who believes in truth and the power of literature to enlighten and have a positive influence. An example to all writers.
In literary and academic circles the announcement that he's become the first Turkish person ever to win a Nobel prize has been justifiably greeted with joy. "He is a representative of modern Turkey," said Cengiz Aktar, an academic in Istanbul. "He will probably now become the conscience of modern Turkey." Let's hope so.
Naturally he has his critics. Especially in a corrupt government that wants to have it both ways - to be 'European' and to abuse the powerless. More power to Orhan Pamuk.