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My Name is Red

If you haven’t seen Doris Duke’s Shangri La: Architecture, Landscape, and Islamic Art, put it on your calendar before December 29, when the exhibition closes. Better yet, come visit sooner and take advantage of the events offered around it. The beauty of Shangri La lies in both the aesthetics of the artwork and in the thought-provoking look at Islamic visual culture.

Upcoming book discussions offer one way to delve deeper into Doris Duke’s Shangri La. November discussions will spotlight My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk, translated by Erdağ Göknar. The Nasher Museum is especially fortunate that Erdağ Göknar, the translator, is Assistant Professor of Turkish Studies at Duke University, indeed, the book discussion held on November 17 will be preceded by a talk by Dr. Göknar.

My Name is Red won the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in 2003. This honor is significant for both the translator and the author because novels can only be nominated if written in English or available in an English translation. Orhan Pamuk produced a brilliant novel and without the artful translation by Dr. Göknar it would not have achieved the same level of international acclaim. In July 2013, Duke Magazine published an essay by Dr. Göknar discussing the need for a translator to focus not only on literally turning Turkish into English but on making complex Turkish culture comprehensible to an Anglophone reader.

Outside of his translations, Dr. Göknar advocates for bringing a greater understanding of Turkish culture to the rest of the world. He notes that, despite the growing political power of Turkey, Turkish culture is still underrepresented in literary works and popular understanding (in Islamosecularism article, quoted in part below). Dr. Göknar’s most recent book, Orhan Pamuk, Secularism and Blasphemy: The Politics of the Turkish Novel, seeks to unfold the layers of meaning in Pamuk’s work as influenced by modern Turkish culture and to help readers understand how these nuances affect Turkey’s role on the international stage.

“Turkey has transformed dramatically in the past decade. It is now the world’s sixteenth largest economy, it is an EU candidate country, it sits at the nexus of Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East, and it is considered to be one of the world’s few successful examples of the marriage of democracy and Islam.

But we shouldn’t overlook the fact that the political story is always inflected by its cultural corollary.”

In early June of this year, Dr. Göknar created a board on Pinterest to tell the story of the protests in Istanbul. Never using Pinterest before, Dr. Göknar found it an effective way of sharing his growing photo essay. Captioning the images as he pinned them, Dr. Göknar offered his own interpretations of a complex situation and, as always, sought to bring a greater understanding of Turkish culture to anyone who viewed his work. Contains some graphic images. Pinterest.

We hope that you will join us at one of the discussions of My Name is Red but, even more importantly, we hope you enjoy Shangri La and find a way to connect to both its aesthetic and cultural beauty!

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