If you read only one book by Orhan Pamuk

by on October 12, 2006 at 9:34 am in Books | Permalink

The White Castle is short, fun, and Calvinoesque.  Not his best book but an excellent introduction and guaranteed to please.  Snow is deep, political, and captures the nuances of modern Turkey; it is my personal favorite.  The New Life isn’t read often enough; ideally it requires not only a knowledge of Dante, but also a knowledge of how Dante appropriated Islamic theological writings for his own ends.  My Name is Red is a complex detective story, beloved by many, often considered his best, but for me it is a little fluffy behind the machinations.  The Black Book is the one to read last, once you know the others.  Istanbul: Memories and the City is a non-fictional memoir and a knock-out.

1 Jay Hancock October 12, 2006 at 10:57 am

Tyler: You have not only apparently read all these books;
you remember them and can post brief, lucid comments on them
minutes after their author has been anointed. How do you do it?
Please do a post on the Tyler Cowen time budget and how one professor
can teach, blog and consume and digest culinary, literary & cinematic
culture in huge quantities and qualities. Do you do all
this AND keep your house clean?

2 Guest 15 October 12, 2006 at 11:09 am

I second Jay Hancock’s request.

3 nelsonal October 12, 2006 at 12:23 pm

Now I’m hungry for a slider, is there a White Castle within a day’s drive of NoVa?

4 josh October 12, 2006 at 2:33 pm

I have to admit, he could have made all of that stuff up for all I know.

5 Kerim Can October 12, 2006 at 11:19 pm

I read “New Life” and “My Name is Red” in Turkish. I hated the first and loved the second. But then you say New Life requires knowing Dante, and I don’t. So go read Pamuk.

6 Natasha October 13, 2006 at 10:06 am

Much cleaner.

7 timothy October 13, 2006 at 4:41 pm

I read ‘Snow’, thought highly of its fascinating psychological portrayals, but was disappointed by its perspective on the headscarf suicides.

‘Snow’ essentially portrayed the suicides as decisions by young girls to protect what they perceived as their honor + chastity. But from what I’ve read the suicides were largely the result of fundamentalist family members killing young women suspected of having sexual relations (or pressuring them to kill themselves):

*”Batman (pronounced bot-MON) is a grim and dusty city of 250,000 people where religion is clashing with Turkey’s official secularism. The city was featured in the latest novel by the Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk, “Snow,” which chronicled a journalist’s investigation of a suicide epidemic among teenage girls.

In the past six years, there have been 165 suicides or suicide attempts in Batman, 102 of them by women. As many as 36 women have killed themselves since the start of this year, according to the United Nations.

Last month, the United Nations dispatched a special envoy to Turkey to investigate. The envoy, Yakin Erturk, concluded that while some suicides were authentic, others appeared to be “honor killings disguised as a suicide or an accident.”

Until recently, a family member of a dishonored girl, usually a brother younger than 18, would carry out the death sentence and receive a short prison sentence because of his youth. Sentences also were reduced under the defense that a relative had been provoked to commit murder.

But in the past two years, Turkey has revamped its penal code and imposed life sentences for such killings, known as honor killings, regardless of the killer’s age. This has prompted some families to take other steps, such as forcing their daughters to commit suicide or killing them and disguising the deaths as suicides.”*

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/16/world/europe/16turkey.html?ex=1156824000&en=15e9d7104022f5af&a mp;ei=5070

The above isn’t really on Pamuk’s radar in ‘Snow’. A lot of it read as off-topic ruminations on what might be going through young women’s heads if the suicides had been genuinely their choice.

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