Sunday, 26 June 2011

My Name Is Red

Mainly for the reason that I have been slightly less disciplined in my leisure reading this past twelve months (though I have picked up other reads in between), it took me a year to read My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk (translated by Erdağ Gökna).  The book itself is one where you must concentrate because each chapter of the story is told by one of the characters - a technique that those who have read Bram Stoker will be familiar with. 

I have to say that despite my lack of continuity, I never did lose the thread with the book, so it is, on the whole very well written. It couldn't get better for me - the central character in this book is someone called Black (wink).

The story takes place in Istanbul during 16th Century Ottoman reign over nine winter days and is a murder mystery set amid the world of the miniaturists. There's a romance that forms part of the backdrop, as well as stories from the Shahnameh and through the characters we enter the world of mysticism, religion and the cultural impact of the Turks looking two ways - East and West. We can draw many parallels between the commentary of the book and the direction that Atatürk took Turkey in today.

No spoilers here, one has to go and read the book themselves. I will say however, that I love Turkey and Istanbul as a city - I was there a couple of years back and I really felt the sense of being on the edge of two worlds. Our hotel looked over the Sultan Ahmed Mosque to the West and the Bosphorus to the East. An irony of positioning, no less.

Istanbul? I would easily return in a heartbeat.

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