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Snow Hardcover – 6 Oct 2011

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 460 pages
  • Publisher: Everyman (6 Oct 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841593389
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841593388
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 3 x 20.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 956,027 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Snow is an in-depth tour of the divided, hopeful, desolate, mystifying Turkish soul. Not only an engrossing feat of tale-spinning, but essential reading for our times." (Margaret Atwood)

"A major work ... conscience-ridden and carefully wrought, tonic in its scope, candour and humour ... In Turkey, to write with honest complexity about such matters as head scarves and religious belief takes courage." (John Updike)

Book Description

Part political thriller, part absurdist farce, part love story, Orhan Pamuk's second novel to appear in an Everyman edition has a contemporary setting - a remote Turkish city where Eastern and Western values overlap and collide.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

104 of 104 people found the following review helpful By Z de MC on 21 April 2010
Format: Paperback
I am of Turkish origin and have read "Snow" in its original Turkish print. I feel that the reason why there are so many lukewarm reviews for this book is that the themes & references might not be so accessible to readers who are not quite familiar with the culture and recent history of Turkey.

One underlying theme of the book was that the protagonist Ka is living in exile in Germany (a situation many Turkish intellectuals & political activists found themselves in, following the 1980 coup d'etat in Turkey) in a small state-subsidied apartment, a lonely outsider in a foreign culture. All this alienation and need to belong are, I feel, behind his thought that it would be a good idea to marry a girl he has fancied back when they were both little, and even his rapproachment with the religious groups.

The whole thing is a nod to feelings of isolation reported by the poor, uneducated, "rural" Turks who went as factory workers to Europe decades ago, and whose descendants still import brides from Turkey. The book seems to be saying that those of us who are better educated, who consider ourselves above our "rural" countrymen, are still the same down inside, with the same cultural longings.

Another theme is the play on names. All Turkish names and surnames mean something, and most are words that are still commonly used in everyday language - Rock, Fire, War, Peace, Rain, Water, etc are all given names in Turkey. The two female characters in the book are Ipek ("Silk") and Kadife ("Velvet"), for example.

Going back to the play on words - KARS is the name of the city, 'Snow' is 'KAR' in Turkish, and KA is the name of the main character.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Birch VINE VOICE on 8 Jun 2007
Format: Paperback
Snow, the story of Ka, a poet who visits the troubled city of Kars, is narrated from a viewpoint four years after the events. The narration is (intentionally) cold, hazy and distant, as our narrator tries to piece together the events that have befallen poor Ka. The plot is brutal and tragic, centred on death and failing relationships. This isn't an easy read. If you want an uplifting novel, Pamuk isn't your man. But there is a lot to be admired in the way the sense of pathos and loss builds up to a beautiful crescendo.

In places the prose is brilliantly inventive. There is a whole chapter comprising a taped final conversation between a murderer and his victim (it's chilling, because you know how it will end). The alternations between the present day and four years previously work very well. A powerful subplot revolving around a book of lost poetry reflects the mood of the whole novel wonderfully. The reviewer who describes this as "Dostoevsky without a plot" is not so far off the mark, but Pamuk doesn't aim for the richness of characterisation Dostoevsky specialised in. He's more in the business of evocative, symbolic description. His settings are as alive as his characters, if not more so.

Pamuk's cities are achingly beautiful, but they're also creepy, claustrophobic and waiting to knife you in the back. Stepping into a Pamuk novel is at the same time like looking over a glorious panorama and like looking under your bed. In Snow, Kars is brought to life with the skill a Pamuk fan would expect. My only caveat is that it's not as compelling as The Black Book, a stunning evocation of 1980s Istanbul. If you want a full idea of what this sensational novelist is capable of, try The Black Book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By HORAK on 25 Nov 2007
Format: Paperback
In "Snow" the poet Ka returns to Turkey after more than a decade in Frankfurt, and journeys to Kars, far in the east. Among the things he hopes to find there is an old classmate and love, Ipek, now separated from her husband. He also plans to explore and report on a wave of suicides by girls there. It is snowing when Ka arrives, and the snow continues to fall, cutting off the town from the rest of the world. There is tension there: an upcoming mayoral election, the struggle between religion and secularism, a heavy-handed police presence. The conflict between Islam - and, for example, the right of girls to go to school wearing head-scarves - and the secular society the government has imposed causes the most problems.
Ka is an outsider. He begins as a dutiful journalist, talking to a variety of town figures, trying to learn more about the suicides, but finds himself drawn into this larger conflict. Throughout the country, and especially in this region, it is no longer the Kurds that are perceived by the authorities as being the greatest threat, but the increasingly influential Islamists. Ka, respected as a poet but tainted as one who has presumably been polluted by Western thought and ways, is viewed with both suspicion and interest by both sides. The police are reluctant to rough him up - as they do the locals - because of his Istanbul and German connexions, while the Islamists see him as the enemy but warily accept that he might be able to help convey their message. Eventually, he is also used as a go-between by both sides.
It is the desire to write a book about the poems written by Ka that leads the narrator - an alter-ego Orhan Pamuk, and long-time friend of Ka's - to tell this story.
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