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on 29 October 2017
The beginning is enticing but then the story evolves into the detailed description of the love adventures of Shekure and Black and the murder mystery and the murderer recedes to second place although they were the more fascinating heroes of the story. It then becomes less poetic and somehow boring.
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on 19 December 2016
a bit tough to get into, but got there and enjoyed it in the end
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on 15 August 2013
A murder mystery full of fascinating descriptions of Istanbul, philosophy and mystery. Each chapter has different and often unexpected narrator which gives the story a unique perspective. The book is quite long and very difficult to read. I would not advise anyone to skim-read parts as it is very easy to lose the storyline.
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on 30 April 2014
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 personal gift.
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on 21 December 2014
unusual in content and structure ,subject matter gave me a different view on ottoman culture and history
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on 27 October 2017
Proper story by a proper story teller. excellent.
cool
fab, fab a rooney, I would liken this book to ...
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on 6 February 2014
boring boring boring what else can I say. Stopped reading, couldn't take it anymore. he killed the book. a b
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on 16 November 2010
In the introduction to this book (in the Everyman's Library edition) Orhan Pamuk explains that until he became a novelist in his early 20s he was a keen artist; his enjoyment in art has gone into this work; as has a considerable effort of historical reconstruction of 16th century Instanbul; as have details of his own childhood in 1950s Istanbul. It all coheres most successfully and it makes for a very unusual and different novel.

A range of narratives in the first person (these include figures depicted by miniaturists in a cafe which tell their own stories, eg "I am a dog" and figures now dead, "I am a corpse") comprise the novel. This involves both events (it starts with a murder, it contains a love story); and a fair bit of reflection on the nature of figurative art - which certainly has its own interest.

My initial reaction was to become engrossed in the narrative and the atmosphere...then as the book moved into its second half and towards its denoument, I felt I might just have had enough, even too much, of a good thing...perhpas for me the balance tilted too much towards the philosophical and away from the world of events and from the delicate understanding of interpersonal relationships that surrounds the central female character modelled on Orhan Pamuk's mother...
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 20 November 2007
This is a complex book. I found it extremely slow going, as it was clearly working on so many levels, and had so much to say that I almost felt that I should read each page twice and inwardly digest. As such it cannot be said to be a page turner, despite the fact that it is a thriller of sorts.
It revolves around the work of Muslim artist, Black, who is trying to work out who murdered one of his colleagues and why. It plunges us as the reader into the history of Muslim art, and the great theological questions of the day. It is an intense narrative full of asides and stories through which the main plot twists and turns.
This can be a richly rewarding book, but if you are looking for an easy read, or one which reveals its secrets after just a little thought, it probably isn't for you.
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on 5 February 2016
Three quarters of the way through this novel one of the characters sticks a needle through his eyes. I sympathised as I had felt like doing the same thing many times while trudging through this novel. There's about 700 pages on the difference between Frankish and Ottoman styles of painting. A couple of alleged 'murder mystery'. And a couple more of 'love story'. Why, Orhan, why?
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