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My Name is Red [Paperback]

Orhan Pamuk
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)

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Book Description

19 Jun 2002
In the late 1590s, the Sultan secretly commissions a great book: a celebration of his life and his empire, to be illuminated by the best artists of the day - in the European manner. At a time of violent fundamentalism, however, this is a dangerous proposition. Even the illustrious circle of artists are not allowed to know for whom they are working. But when one of the miniaturists is murdered, their Master has to seek outside help. Did the dead painter fall victim to professional rivalry, romantic jealousy or religious terror? With the Sultan demanding an answer within three days, perhaps the clue lies somewhere in the half-finished pictures . . . Orhan Pamuk is Turkey's leading contemporary novelist and in My Name is Red, he has fashioned an unforgettable tale of suspense, and an artful meditation on love and deception.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 508 pages
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber; New edition edition (19 Jun 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571212247
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571212248
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 302,284 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Orhan Pamuk is one of Turkey's premier novelists and My Name Is Red, when published in the original Turkish in 1998, became the fastest-selling book in Turkish history. It is high time then that a translation to English was made, and this publication will be widely welcomed by Pamuk's growing legion of English-speaking admirers.

In the late 16th century, during the final years of the reign of Ottoman Sultan Murat III, a great work is commissioned, a book celebrating the Sultan's life. The work is conducted in secret, to the ignorance of the artists involved, for fear of a violent religious reaction to the European style of the illuminations in the book. An artist goes, missing, feared dead, and Black, a painter who has been in a self-enforced exile because of spurned love, returns to help his former Master investigate the disappearance.

Pamuk's prose is as exquisite and rich as the elucidations it describes. This is a dense, atmospherically fevered book, which demands a high level of patience and attention from the reader, perhaps mirroring the patience of the miniaturists. Written in the first person, with multiple narratives, this is a book full of unreliable witnesses, and as the various stories of the narrators unfold, the truth of the disappearance slowly emerges. The sense of place and time are carefully constructed and diligently maintained throughout the novel, which, like Umberto Eco's The Name Of The Rose, far exceeds the genre of literary historical crime to become a hypnotic meditation on religion, love, time, patience and artistic devotion. --Iain Robinson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


'Magnificent... In this world of forgeries, where some might be in danger of losing their faith in literature, Pamuk is the real thing, and this book might well be one of the few recent works of fiction that will be remembered at the end of this century.' --Observer

'We in the West can only feel gratitude that such a novelist as Pamuk exists, to act as a bridge between our culture and that of a heritage quite as rich as our own.' --Daily Telegraph

'More than any other book I can think of, it captures not just its past and present contradictions, but also its terrible, timeless beauty. It's almost perfect, in other words. All it needs is the Nobel Prize.' --Maureen Freely, New Statesman

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
70 of 70 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Islamic historical fiction 3 Sep 2006
`MNIR' is a whodunit set in late 16th century Istanbul. An illustrator of manuscripts (Elegant Effendi) is murdered by one of his colleagues. Black Effendi, newly returned from exile, is set the task of finding the murderer by his uncle, for whom the victim was working when he was killed. As Black delves deeper into the output of the workshop in which Elegant worked, he uncovers many tensions between the workers, including over the intrusion of European techniques into Islamic illustration, the succession to the position of master of the workshop, professional jealousy and good old-fashioned lust. Black must unravel these strands to identify the murderer before the sultan makes good a threat to have the whole workshop arrested and tortured.

Parallels with Eco's `The Name of the Rose' are impossible to avoid. Both books are murder mysteries whose resolution is based in religious philosophy, and both play very cleverly with the idea of big religious concepts interacting with the baser aspects of human nature. Fans of one will enjoy the other. Pamuk's writing is more humanistic than Eco's, and perhaps less coldly academic. Black's investigations are woven in with a genuinely fascinating love story that becomes integral to the story, rather than just a distraction. In addition, Pamuk's writing is very beautiful, and the whole book is set against the background of a wintry and claustrophobic Istanbul that is very well described. Because of this, it is slow paced, occasionally too slow, and the murder mystery aspect becomes secondary to Black's own life in places. However, in general I really enjoyed reading `MNIR' and, despite it being a big book, finished it fairly quickly. It was enjoyable and cerebral, and a great piece of historical fiction.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Firstly, despite the way Faber have decided to promote this book, it's not a murder mystery in the way those words are usually understood: so if you're looking for a thriller with clues, twists and turns, this definitely isn't it. Partly for that reason I think the reviews which compare it with Eco's The Name of the Rose are off-point. That was a book which playfully refers to the intertextual nature of all reading; reading isn't what's at stake in Pamuk's book at all.

Instead it is a profound and engaging meditation on the contrasting and sometimes conflicting views of eastern and western aesthetics of art, especially visual and religious art: or, rather, the religiosity of art.
Yes, there is a murder which kicks off the story, and another one mid-way through (very brutal and disturbing) but who did it, really isn't either the point or the driver of this book. There's also a love story at its heart, but one which draws on the persian epics that it constantly refers to and so half invites and half resists comparisons with western love stories.

Other reviewers have complained about the narrative voices all sounding the same, and that is the case, but becasue Pamuk isn't interested in writing a character-driver novel. Also don't read it if you're expecting a lush historical full of exotic detail as that's not the type of book it is (Gregory, Chadwick et al)

Altogether this is an intellectually-accomplished and brave novel that deals with hard subjects. It's not a difficult read but it is a slow one, one that you need to take your time over and digest, not a page-turner where you can't wait to find out what happens next. I think it's an important book but it won't be to everyone's taste.
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74 of 78 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quirky and delightful book 2 Feb 2006
I have decided to write this review for 2 reasons:
1. I read the book (!)
2. The reviews haven't done the book justice.
I am native Turkish but having grown up and lived in the UK all my life it was easier for me to read the English translation of this book. Being Turkish I note that the translations were perfect, it has been translated EXACTLY. However, this doesn't take into consideration cultural understandings of terms and phrases. As a Turk it was easier for me to identify with these than perhaps other readers. I was quite surprised by some of the reviews for this book which I put down to "lost in translation" hence my own review...
I found the book original and hugely entertaining. It's a detective story of sorts with love thrown in. But Orhan Pamuk is dealing with lots of other issues too: differences in Eastern/Western art, culture and the impact of religion. Its a very original book and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone. Take it slow and it will all make sense. Promise!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Obvious Comparisons with The Name of the Rose 25 Aug 2002
I came across the book by chance and was intrigued. I had never heard of Orhan Pamuk. A murder mystery which has elements of the Name of the Rose, Kurasawa's Rashomon and which like the former educates the reader. Maybe I am reading too much into this but this may be an allegory about Modern Turkish politics and society, resistance to modernism, the independence of women and Fundamentalism....maybe I found too much. The period accuracy is compelling. I somehow feel compelled to read more of Pamuk's works.
If you liked The Name of the Rose, you will love it, if your looking for Cadfael....don't bother and look elsewhere.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating story in Instanbul
Excellent book. One of his very best books. A must read
Published 1 month ago by SprKKK
5.0 out of 5 stars Well recommended....
It is a very interesting book which gives you lots of info of the Ottomans time....well written

Deserve to be read.
Published 1 month ago by Rula
4.0 out of 5 stars Great storytelling, some lost in translation
The storytelling of this book approaches the greatest authors of this generation, but perhaps a lot of the literary beauty is lost in translation. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Parth Awasthi
4.0 out of 5 stars good
i bout this for a friend for a gift for her birthday from her wish list. im not much of a reader but she seemed really happy with it, the quality of it was good and it made a very... Read more
Published 6 months ago by shopper01
4.0 out of 5 stars A novel that captures the soul of Istanbul
If it was William Faulkner who first really promoted the multi-narrator novel as a way of showing the unreliable point of view of characters such as Caroline, Quentin and Benjy in... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Alison Porteous
1.0 out of 5 stars Dreary
I abandoned it half way through as I found it boring and repetitive. I bought it after reading 'Istanbul' which I thought was a great book. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Harriet Bretherton
2.0 out of 5 stars boring to death
boring boring boring what else can I say. Stopped reading, couldn't take it anymore. he killed the book. a b
Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Beguiling
A submersion into a different time and a different place yet the people remain all too familiar in their jealousies and loves. fascinating.
Published 9 months ago by liz walters
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor and tedious narration
Whilst I imagine this is a fascinating book I have had to give up on it due to the peculiarity of the narration. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Martha
5.0 out of 5 stars thrilling piece of read
i luvd the character and novels immense plot dated back to 1550 istanbul.
precisely novel is about love, religion and philosophy
Published 11 months ago by kaiser
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