- 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 (96 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 411,271 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
My Name is Red Paperback – 19 Jun 2002
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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
'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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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!
First, of course, there is a murder mystery. As the narrative from various points of view unfolds, clues and many false paths are left for the reader to piece together. It is a dazzlingly elegant labyrinth that kept my mystified to the very last chapters.
Second, there is a man and woman bound by family and seeking fulfillment in love. In thrall to Islamic and Turkish tradition, they perform a long mating dance. If is beautiful, taut with emotion, and as suspenseful as the murder itself.
Third, the time period is at the close of the Ottoman Turks' golden age, when the dynamics behind the expansion of the empire are giving way to a far more conservative society, one that will seek to preserve rather than create, becoming famously decadent over the next 400 years of decline. This turning point is wonderfully and subtly evoked, obliquely and by inference. You also get a feel for the other empires and princes nearby.
Fourth, the reader is introduced to the Islamic tradition of figurative art. As idolatry was forbidden by the Koran, the portrayal of images (rather than exclusively geometric designs) was a risky business. This too is wonderfully evoked and explained.Read more ›
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 I assume because 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.)
In summary, 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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Not an easy read but I stayed with it and am very glad I did!Published 18 days ago by Amazon Customer
Despite being rather too wordy at times, this is fascinating on many levels. It is such an interesting insight into Islamic thinking. Read morePublished 2 months ago by jklm
Struggled to read first hundred pages and then abandoned it-. I rarely give up on a book especially as it was for our book club.Published 4 months ago by Helen W-G
Three quarters of the way through this novel one of the characters sticks a needle through his eyes. Read morePublished 10 months ago by M. R. Cox
Marvelous story (or, really, stories entwined) this book creates an absolutely enticing atmosphere that transports us for a far away fantasy place. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Dr Jorge Rodrigues
I really tried with this but I just couldn't get into this book. Very hard going had to move on to something enjoyable to read as it was depressing me to waste anymore time on itPublished 14 months ago by L. J. Adlington