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Summary

The White Castle, Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk's celebrated first novel, is set in the Ottoman Empire, where a young Italian scholar is captured by pirates and put up for auction at the Istanbul slave market. From a Turkish writer who has been compared with Joyce, Nabokov, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez comes a dazzling novel that is at once a captivating work of historical fiction and a sinuous treatise on the enigma of identity and the relations between East and West. 

In the 17th century, a young man sailing from Venice to Naples is taken prisoner by pirates and delivered to the Ottoman Empire in Constantinople. There he is forced into slavery and left in the custody of a brilliant Turkish inventor known as Hoja - 'master' - a man who is his exact double. In the years that follow, the slave instructs his master in Western science and technology, from medicine to pyrotechnics. But Hoja wants to know more: why he and his captive are the persons they are and whether, given knowledge of each other's most intimate secrets, they could actually exchange identities. 

Set in the Ottoman Empire, a world of pirates, slavery, magnificent scholarship and terrifying savagery, The White Castle is a colourful and intricately patterned triumph of the imagination....

©1979 Can Yayin Lari Ltd (P)2018 Penguin Random House

Critic reviews

"Turkey's foremost novelist and one of the most interesting literary figures anywhere...A first-rate storyteller." (Times Literary Supplement)

"The White Castle is brilliant not for its evocation of the time, but for its investigation of the myth of the individual and because Pamuk packages such meditations in such a simple story." (The Guardian)

"Orhan Pmuk's brilliant novel about foreign influences...gives us a cool and elegantly jaundiced look at the results of cultural fusion. There are echoes of Calvino, but the writer he is closes to in technique and outlook is Kazuo Ishiguro." (The Independent)

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Boring

“Literary”, sure, but so tedious. The story just goes round in circles, obsessing over some self-important character who is either copying or being copied by an equally self-obsessed lookalike. I’m sure there are hidden meanings and clever plot twists in there, but as an Audible listen it’s just monotonous & repetitive and goes nowhere. I gave up just 30 minutes from the end. Yep, I really couldn’t care less what “happens”!