Listen to Owen Bennett-Jones discuss the future of opinion polls with Mark Pack

Orhan Pamuk with Bruce Robbins

Mar 11, 2021

That Demonic Novelistic Impulse

A Discussion with

New Books Network 2021

In Episode Two of Novel Dialogue, critic and scholar Bruce Robbins sits down with Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk. They have taught classes on the political novel together at Columbia for years, and it shows. They ask how the novel can ever escape its roots in middle-class sensibility and perspective: Joseph Conrad comes up, but so does modern Brazilian film. Then they discuss the demonic appeal of Russian novels—and why retired military officers produced so many great Turkish translations of Russian novels.

We hear tantalizing details about Pamuk’s forthcoming pandemic novel, Nights of Plague. He discusses his move away from “highbrow ironical postmodernist” fiction and reveals his affection for talking about politics–along with his distaste for what the consequences of speaking out may be. “I am not shy about talking…but there are consequences!”

Finally, he tells Novel Dialogue what he did to celebrate the news of his Nobel, which came on “a surrealistic day.”

Mentioned in the Episode

  • City of God (Brazilian film, 2002)
  • Joseph Conrad (Under Western Eyes, Nostromo)
  • Ivan Turgenev
  • Gayatri Spivak, “Can the Subaltern Speak?”
  • Karl Marx, “18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon”
  • Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Demons (1871-2), A Writer’s Diary,
  • James Joyce, Dubliners
  • Louis Aragon, (Zolaesque romances at the end of his career), Aurélien
  • Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

Aarthi Vadde is Associate Professor of English at Duke University. Email: aarthi.vadde@duke.edu. John Plotz is Barbara Mandel Professor of the Humanities at Brandeis University and co-founder of the Brandeis Educational Justice Initiative. Email: plotz@brandeis.edu.

Listen to more episodes on:

Your Host

Aarthi Vadde and John Plotz

Aarthi Vadde is Associate Professor of English at Duke University. Email: aarthi.vadde@duke.edu. John Plotz is Barbara Mandel Professor of the Humanities at Brandeis University and co-founder of the Brandeis Educational Justice Initiative. Email: plotz@brandeis.edu.


Learn More

Also Hosted By Aarthi Vadde and John Plotz