Orhan Pamuk, Turkey's best-known novelist and incendiary social commentator, won the 2006 Nobel prize for Literature on Thursday.
In its citation for the 10 million Swedish crown ($1.36 million) prize, the Swedish Academy said: "In the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city, (Pamuk) has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures."
Pamuk, who just months ago went on trial for insulting "Turkishness", was the first author in the Muslim world to condemn the fatwa against Salman Rushdie.
The Academy said his international breakthrough came with his third book, Beyaz Kale or The White Castle, a historical novel about the relationship of a Venetian slave with the young scholar who buys him, and their gradual blurring of identities.
The Swedish Academy said Pamuk in his writing often plays with the notion of self and of doubles, themes that appeared again in a later work, Kara Kitap or The Black Book, in which the main character searches Istanbul for his wife and her half-brother, with whom he later exchanges identities.
Pamuk, whose best-selling novels include My Name is Red and Snow, focuses in his work on the clash between past and present, East and West, secularism and Islamism—problems at the heart of Turkey's struggle to develop.
In January, a Turkish court dropped criminal charges against Pamuk who was charged under article 301 of a new penal code, which forbids insulting Turkish identity.
Pamuk upset nationalists by telling a Swiss newspaper last year nobody in Turkey dared mention the killing of a million Armenians during World War I or 30,000 Kurds in recent decades.