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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Istanbul: Memories and the City, 8 Jan 2014
This review is from: Istanbul: Memories of a City (Paperback)
This is a very personal memoir, of a man who grew from a boy, and of the city in which he lived. The book moves from Orhan Pamuk's own personal reminiscences to musings about the city of Istanbul and the Istanbullus themselves over the years. We see his family, falling out over failing fortunes, his grandmother, aunts and uncles and Orhan himself with his brother, skipping school, going on car rides with his father, moving house, spending time with his grandmother.

And in between we see the fading remnants of the Ottoman Empire, the stress between Istanbul's own heritage and the westernisation brought by visitors or imposed by Istanbullus themselves. We are shown a new world of yalis, the pervading melancholic hűzűn, the everpresent Bosphorus, the clashes of empires, cultures and languages, the poverty but the inbomitable spirit of the Istanbullus. And we get glimpses of what others have thought of Istanbul - the travellers, the visitors, the writers, the artists. Through their eyes and through the eyes of Orhan we see life in Istanbul as it was and as it is, from the wooden hovels woven into the ancient city walls and fortresses, through the cemeteries with the graves disappearing into the ground, to the concrete buildings with neon signs.

Throughout the book are wonderful photos - photos of people, places, dogs, horses, crumbling buildings, trams and cobbled streets, places, scenes that we could never imagine brought to new life. There are photos of Orhan and his family, photos of empty streets, crowded streets, buildings, precipitous streets, the Bosphorus with its steam ferries, the beautiful old yalis, trams on old city avenues. We are taken into a world of Ottoman harems, djinni, Turkish revolutions and a new world afraid of, yet forced to embrace westernism in all its many guises.

I love reading memoirs of places and times that are beyond my own experience or imagination - life in Istanbul or other places we think of as `exotic' and `mysterious'. This is a wonderful book showing a world which the reader can dip in and out of, and share some of the experiences of a man who clearly sees the world in an extraordinary way.
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4.0 out of 5 stars (32 customer reviews)
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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

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