Orhan Pamuk's novel My Name Is Red won the 2003 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. His work has been translated into more than twenty languages. He lives in Istanbul.
Turkish novelist Pamuk (Snow) presents a breathtaking portrait of a city, an elegy for a dead civilization and a meditation on life's complicated intimacies. The author, born in 1952 into a rapidly fading bourgeois family in Istanbul, spins a masterful tale, moving from his fractured extended family, all living in a communal apartment building, out into the city and encompassing the entire Ottoman Empire. Pamuk sees the slow collapse of the once powerful empire hanging like a pall over the city and its citizens. Central to many Istanbul residents' character is the concept of hazan (melancholy). Istanbul's hazan, Pamuk writes, "is a way of looking at life that... is ultimately as life affirming as it is negating." His world apparently in permanent decline, Pamuk revels in the darkness and decay manifest around him. He minutely describes horrific accidents on the Bosphorus Strait and his own recurring fantasies of murder and mayhem. Throughout, Pamuk details the breakdown of his family: elders die, his parents fight and grow apart, and he must find his way in the world. This is a powerful, sometimes disturbing literary journey through the soul of a great city told by one of its great writers. 206 photos. (June 10) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Pamuk, whose My Name Is Red won the 2003 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, fondly remembers and capably details life growing up in the paradoxical city of Istanbul. The city, which Flaubert once predicted would be the capital of the world, is an odd mix of history and modernity, Eastern tradition and Western progress, stateliness and vulgarity. Along with the disparate cultural elements, we get Pamuk's own unique family experiences, which provide the thread of focus through a mosaic of culture, history, art, religion, and politics-elements that continue to shape the city daily in Istanbul's "greatest treasures," its grocery stores and coffeehouses. Whether describing the elegant decay of the Bosporus mansions (so named for their location on the Bosporus Strait) or explaining the wealth and danger of oil tankers and shipping routes, Pamuk paints a picture of a city where the "remains of glorious past civilizations" are everywhere "inflicting heartache" on all who live among them. Fans of Pamuk and his work will enjoy the well-written accounts of his eccentric upbringing, but others might find the multitude of reminiscences distracting. It is the city that is most intriguing. Recommend for larger public libraries, extensive travel collections, and where there is an interest in Muslim history. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/05.]-Mari Flynn, Keystone Coll., La Plume, PA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Delightful, profound, marvelously original. . . . Pamuk tells the story of the city through the eyes of memory." -The Washington Post Book World"Far from a conventional appreciation of the city's natural and architectural splendors, Istanbul tells of an invisible melancholy and the way it acts on an imaginative young man, aggrieving him but pricking his creativity." -The New York Times"Brilliant. . . . Pamuk insistently discribes a]dizzingly gorgeous, historically vibrant metropolis." -Newsday "A fascinating read for anyone who has even the slightest acquaintance with this fabled bridge between east and west." -The Economist