Orhan Pamuk is a Turkish novelist who in 2006 won the Nobel Prize in Literature. He is the author of novels including The White Castle, The Black Book, The New Life, My Name Is Red, Snow, The Museum of Innocence, and A Strangeness in My Mind.
He is the Robert Yik-Fong Tam Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University, where he teaches writing and comparative literature. Pamuk holds honorary doctorates from the Free University of Berlin, Tilburg University, Boğaziçi University, and Georgetown, and his books have been translated into more than fifty languages.
Question: Who are your heroes?
Orhan Pamuk: Look, I don’t want to see heroes around. I believe in a world where there are no heroes, and I've read and know humanity a lot. There are moments that I admire in a person courage, intellect, hard work. These are the qualities I admire in an intellectual, in a writer, and there are so many people who have these things. Say I admire Noam Chomsky, or say I used to admire, when I was a teenager, Jean-Paul Sartre. I like outspoken public intellectuals, but on the other hand, then I also see their failures, their vanities. They're all human beings. My policy of looking at intellectuals -- and they are most of the time people I admire -- is to pay attention to what they did best and ignore their failures, because they all fail. We are -- intellectuals, writers, in the end say something interesting. And pay attention to what they say. Then there are also uninteresting things they say, or just their failures. I don't care about that.