From The Telegraph:
Unrequited love makes fools of many of us. Even so, is it normal behaviour to collect 4,213 of your beloved’s cigarette butts – to say nothing of 237 hair clips, 419 lottery tickets and hundreds of other items you have surreptitiously looted from her family home, which you’ve been visiting every other night for dinner and polite conversation for nine years? And then to build a museum to house all your mementos? At best it’s eccentric, at worst it’s creepy – but Orhan Pamuk won’t hear a word of it. The Nobel laureate’s reluctance to condemn Kemal, the love-struck narrator of his latest novel, is understandable. For if Kemal’s behaviour is odd, what does that say about a novelist who is building a real museum in Istanbul to recreate the imaginary one in his book? Pamuk – animated, garrulous and jovial in person, his eyebrows shooting up expressively with every other pronouncement – insists he should not be confused with the moony protagonist of The Museum of Innocence, his eighth novel and first since winning a Nobel Prize for literature in 2006. Still, they seem to have more in common than the fact that both turned their backs on bourgeois Istanbul upbringings.
Sprawled on a leather sofa in his office at Columbia University in New York, where he spends four months of the year lecturing, Pamuk, 57, clearly enjoys being asked to discuss spurned lovers and collecting mementos. Given that in 2008 some fellow Turks were accused of plotting to kill him and, five years ago, prosecutors wanted to imprison him for “insulting Turkishness”, it’s a step forward for this controversial writer. “So many women readers in Istanbul have asked me, their eyes shining: ‘Is Kemal you?’,” he says, grinning. “To an extent, clearly yes, all lovers behave like this. And when women ask this, I think their tender smiles suggest they’re happy about their power to make men fall in love.”