Wednesday, December 30, 2009

One Author to read 2010- Orhan Pamuk

Pamuk’s appeal has not been lost on politicians. Daniel Cohn-Bendit has credited Pamuk with helping him to ‘understand the importance of Turkey joining the European Union’...

One woman in The Black Book fears that, having spent half her life trying to be someone else, she is now condemned to spend the next half ‘being someone else who regretted all those years she had not spent being herself’. The hero of that novel, a lawyer called Galip (after the 18th-century mystic poet Sheikh Galip), shaken by the disappearance of his wife, Rüya (‘dream’), manages to piece himself together, but only after assuming the identity of the newspaper columnist his wife seems to have run away with; as he loses himself in the back alleys of Istanbul, he begins to suspect that the journalist, the enigmatic Celâl (after the Sufi poet Jelal ud-Din Rumi), is the secret author of his fate. Galip is one of the luckier characters in Pamuk, transported to the shores of a stable identity by a mystical journey; most are left hanging, swinging between East and West, between the mosque and the mall. To the characters in Snow, Islamism is a powerful, almost erotic temptation, since it promises to eradicate this vertiginous sense of dislocation: it’s no accident that one of the Islamist leaders in that novel is a dashing, charismatic seducer of his female followers, beguiling them with his blue eyes and his fiery vision of a cleansed and virtuous Muslim society.

-Wanting to Be Something Else

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