As the snow begins to fall, a journalist arrives in the remote city of Kars on the Turkish border. Kars is a troubled place - there's a suicide epidemic among its young women, Islamists are poised to win the local elections, and the head of the intelligence service is viciously effective. When the growing blizzard cuts off the outside world, the stage is set for a terrible and desperate act....
Orhan Pamuk's magnificent and best-selling novel evokes the spiritual fragility of the non-Western world, its ambivalence about the godless West, and its fury.
©2004 Orhan Pamuk; 2013 Canongate Books Ltd
Classics,contemporary fiction, Politics, Philosophy, Economics - a weekly eye on The New Yorker & The Guardian and dense word style/play.
Whilst written over ten years ago, my current reading of this dazzling book revealed a name and a talent that was initially new and very exciting.
I remember my own disappointment in wondering why, again, had John Updike been looked over for the Noble prize. Gratifying to reflect now that early nuture and attention was afforded to the obscured source of so much that I am now enjoying was in the gift of Updike’s vision.
Very easy, I’m sure to list the literary links and compact the comparisons into an overview of this book. There is no comfortable route out of this narrative once you start - you have to stick with it, have to. The apologists, the contradictions, the associations and the explanations come by rotation - I found myself hooked, lined and sinkered by each of the arguments that Pamuk lays out in turn Turkey.
Nothing here is written from anything other than the position of the insider’s authority. It is shocking by dint of its authenticity and feeds straight into yesterday and today’s headlines. I found myself, stopping at points and marveling that the book is ten years old. Nothing has changed and yet, what ten years ago was unfamiliar and a bit of a blind alley to wander down once the objective historical perspective had been brush cut away - is today’s news headline tomorrow’s fear and the round the doors reality of where we have arrived in such a short space of time.
It’s as if Noam Chomsky wrote fiction - we’ll give Pamuk the benefit of the existentialist doubt on some of those post-modern literaturisms (although to be fair they do work!) - but entertaining, engaging stories that mirror the past and the sad new direction that our world is currently choosing to take in our now all but post-globalisationalised world.
If you don’t know Orhan Pamuk, know him. If you haven’t read him, read it.
I might re-listen to MY NAME IS READ but otherwise probably not; and certainly not if narrated by John Lee I'm afraid.
I am on Book 2 and given that the story essentially has a contemporary setting (last half of the 20 century I think) the society described and its preoccupations are so far removed from anything that and even a mildly Islamofile white caucasian westerner can relate to that it comes across as third world nonsense. I am finding it quite dull - not sure I will finish it but we'll see. Finally I may be in a minority here but I am not keen on John Lee's voice or accent as a reader; particularly the continual use of the short A in every single path bath fast pass passerby fasten cast ask after afternoon etc etc. To best of my knowledge most people in England do not speak like that; I can take it if it is combined with a proper North county accent but really not otherwise. I would be interested to know if this grates on other listeners too.
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