By Kani Xulam

“To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.”

— Elie Wiesel, Nazi concentration camp survivor

I wish Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk had clutched those arresting words of someone who had suffered unspeakable horrors to his heart while writing his book, Istanbul, about the city and himself.

If he had done so, we might have learned something new about pogroms that were committed against Greeks when he was a child or the Armenians that were simply wiped out when his grandfather was alive.

Maybe atonement doesn’t suit Turkish literature. But its cousin, compassion, does find its way into Pamuk’s pages. “Let me be straight with you,” he writes in the first chapter, and in return asks for our “compassion.”

That’s a tall order for me, a political Kurd—given the long-lasting, abominable domination of Turks over the Kurds. It is not the first word that pops to mind when I read anything from any Turk—on any subject.


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