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review 2017-10-06 03:52
interesting examination of parent child relationships.
The Red-Haired Woman: A novel - Orhan Pamuk

The Red-Haired Woman, Orhan Pamuk, author, John Lee, Katharine McEwan, narrators

In Part One of the novel, Cem Celik is 16 years old. Because his father had abandoned his mother, he was forced to seek summer employment so that he could earn enough money to go to cram school before taking the exams for his higher education. Otherwise his future would be doomed. In this effort, he became an apprentice to Master Mahmut, the well-digger, and a close father/son relationship developed over a short period of time. On one evening, while walking with him, he spied a red-haired woman, Gulcihan, who seemed to catch his eye. He became enthralled with her. Cem is coming of age and feeling things that he had not felt before.

After a tragic event, in which his master is hurt in the well, Cem abandons him and runs away because he is afraid he will be accused of causing the accident which will ruin his life. He places his own well being before that of his master which is considered his greatest sin. Cem never speaks of what he did to anyone for many years, not even his future wife.

In Part Two of the book, years have passed and Cem is happily married, but childless. He and his wife are very compatible and carve out a life for themselves which is very secure financially. When someone claims to be his son, his life’s trajectory turns in a different direction. He discovers that many of the things he had believed for the previous three decades, that had haunted him through the years, were wrong.

In Part Three, the red-haired woman describes her acting career and her past love life including her relationship with Cem and Akin Celik, and Turhan and Turgay, her husbands. She has a son named Enver whose paternity has only recently been discovered. He has been charged with the murder of his father, and she attempts to explain why her son should be judged innocent of the crime he committed.

As the master and apprentice tell each other stories, of father/son relationships and the ensuing tragedies of fratricide and patricide their relationship deepens. Using Sophocles classic about Oedipus and Laius and The Shanamara, a Persian poem containing the legend of Rostam and Sohrab, the reader sees the troubled relationships in families, the difficulties between fathers and sons and the resultant dysfunction from those problems. There is often a deep resentment toward the absent parent for the lack of guidance that is desired from that parent. Politics and the absence of faith, in this case, the Muslim faith, is also blamed as there seems to be a lack of responsibility for one’s actions or an impulsiveness that leads to rash behavior, which religion might otherwise prevent, since irresponsible behavior would be absolutely forbidden.

The moral of the story seems to be the need for a strong father figure in a boy’s life in order for him to take the right path. The lopsided bond of mother and son, without the equal bond of father and son often leads to disastrous consequences. Resentments develop, sometimes without rational reasons, simply based on bitterness. The result of the relationship between Mahmut and Cem and between the red-haired woman and Cem, haunted our main character, and he was powerless to stop fate from intervening and changing the course of his life.

Several questions were posed to me. Why did Cem choose the wife he did? Was her similarity to his mother and the red-haired woman a motivating factor? Did he punish Master Mahmut and abandon him because he had been abandoned by his own father? Were his mother and Enver’s mother too close to their sons, not allowing them to mature in a stable way, not providing them with a way to respect themselves even though their fathers had abandoned them, whether willfully or otherwise? Should immaturity and youth be used as an excuse for reprehensible behavior? Does anyone escape ultimate judgment for their behavior? Abandonment, deceptions and secrets have grave consequences.

John Lee is one of my favorite narrators and he didn’t disappoint me. While Katharine McEwan did a fine job, I didn’t quite match her voice to the personality with which I had identified Gulcihan, the red-haired woman. I felt the red-haired woman was more complicit in the outcome of the novel, than comes across from her portrayal. The narrator’s voice radiated too much innocence for her part. There seemed to be a universal lack of responsibility on the part of the characters for their own behavior, with each blaming their personal misfortune on the behavior of someone or something else.

This novel will provide a great many controversial topics for discussion.

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review 2016-03-18 00:00
Snow - Orhan Pamuk,Maureen Freely Suffocating prose; monologues in spades; hard to understand without footnotes, which made me care less for the plot; I have a feeling English translation is not too good - at some point, accidentally, I switched from a print copy in English to an e-book in Polish and the change in the ease of reading was amazing, something I rarely experience these days. It seems that either the English translation is less flowing than the Polish one, or that the Polish translator took some liberties with the text.
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review 2016-02-01 02:11
The overly Islamic religious tone spoiled the book
My name is Red - Orhan Pamuk

I should have googled this book before buying.


Yes, it is literature.


It is the kind of literature that killed off the main character in the first few pages of the book.


The rest of the book is the people the dead person knew and kind of explain why he was killed. 


That's the plot.



If you are in the mindset that Islam is just a harmless religion and this people think this way because they are taught from birth to be religious, you might like this one.


As for me, I considered religion disgusting in general, and Islam is exceptionally disgusting. Reading this book mention that shit god allah is like reading book that have all the characters eating stinky shit and liking it.


Yes. Kind of sickening.


Don't know I could read this while on the train and not give the "smelling fart" face, I would put it in the bathroom. At least the look fit when I read this one. 


The teenage daughter who was married off in her teen, now married with two children and the husband is missing.


I don't think this writer knew women at all. The girl talked like a stupid idiot. The woman character is worst than a cardboard figure. She said she was not now over her prime year now that she is twenty four. Not like when she was sixteen.


Give me a freaking break.

How sick is this? Girl should not think of marriage when she was a teenager, and should not used her sex to get out of her marriage when she was twenty four.


Her way out, is the have sex with the younger brother of her husband, so that he could fall in love with her and released her marriage to her husband who is missing.


How sick is that?


From this book, you wouldn't think women have brains have brains.




And I'm on on page 55. 


Did not finished. 


My strong dislike for anything religious has put me off this book.  


This is a Nobel prize winning author, it is just not for me. 



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text 2016-01-19 17:18
Excellent picture of the culture and life of a family in Istanbul, struggling to survive, over almost 5 decades.
A Strangeness in My Mind: A novel - Orhan Pamuk,Ekin Oklap

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This tale revolves around three families: Mevlut’s father Mustafa’s, Mustafa's older brother Hasan’s, and Rayiha’s father, Crooked Neck Abdurrahman’s. Although this story is written from their many different points of view, and it follows the lives and schemes of these men and their children, this is really the story of Mevlut over a period of almost half a century. A series of lies and deceptions sets this tale into motion. The first deception involves Mustafa’s brother, Hasan, and the family land that he deceitfully used to arrange the marriage of his son Korkut to Crooked Neck’s daughter, Vediha. The second involves Hasan’s son Süleyman and his falsehearted treatment of Mevlut regarding Crooked Neck’s daughters Rayiha and Samiha. The novel takes place in Turkey and along with Mevlut’s life, the reader bears witness to the changes in politics, government and civil rights that occurred during the four and a half decades in which it transpired from some time in the year 1968 when 12 year old Mevlut and his father move to Istanbul, through 2012, when Mevlut has revelations about the love of his life and his eternal need to sell Boza.
When the story began, we learned that helped by his cousin Süleyman, Mevlut believed he was eloping with the girl of his dreams, Samiha, the girl with the dark eyes that he fell in love with at first sight, at Korkut and Vediha's wedding, the young and beautiful girl that he thought he had been writing love letters to over the past few years. We discovered that instead, Korkut's brother, Süleyman, had actually tricked Mevlut into eloping with the older and plainer sister, Rayiha. Compassionate Mevlut discovered that there was, after all, an inner beauty as well as an outer beauty, and he honored his end of the bargain by marrying Rayiha, choosing not to humiliate her or to break her heart, and he proceeded to fall deeply in love with her. They were suited to each other perfectly. The time was September, 1982. The novel then continued, moving back and forth in time until decades later, in 2012.
Mevlut’s father, Mustafa, was a street vendor who sold yogurt by day and Boza by night. Boza is an ancient, thick, pudding-like traditional beverage of the Ottoman Empire. Mustafa made Mevlut his own stick with which to carry the jugs across his shoulders, and often, in the evenings after he had done his schoolwork, he was allowed to sell Boza with his father. Mevlut loved their time together. When he grew up, however, he disappointed his father by becoming a Boza seller too, giving up on furthering his education. As the technology and changes in the politics and government occurred, the reader watched the effects these outside forces had on Mevlut and those with whom he interacted. Corruption was rampant and lying and conniving appeared to be the norm, in all walks of life, with the most cunning and greedy bullies getting away with taking advantage of their neighbors and fellow employees. The terrible poverty forced people to do what they must in order to survive, even resorting to stealing electricity for their homes and cheating one another. Some women began to resent the power the men had over their narrow lives, and they sometimes schemed in order to gain some little bit of independence, even just to enable them to leave their own homes freely.
In spite of the changes around him, Mevlut somehow managed to hold true to the basic values his father had taught him. He always looked backwards in time and yearned for the old ways, for his former, more simple life. He did not engage in crafty activities. He felt little envy or greed. In spite of all his hardships, his faith remained. On occasion, he visited the Holy Man for advice, but he did not pray regularly. He maintained his ties to the past by selling his Boza every night. It brought him contentment. The call of the Boza seller was a traditional sound that roused residents, and they would shout from their windows to invite him; they were overcome with a feeling of nostalgia for this ancient custom that he loved so much and vowed to continue all the days of his life. In addition to selling his Boza, however, it was sometimes necessary for him to hold other jobs as the world around him changed and commercial competition made it less profitable to simply sell his Boza. At times, among other things, he was an electrical inspector and a building manager, positions often fortuitously secured for him by friends and family.
The book described Istanbul’s growing pains as the government changed, as religion became a more important part of its function and as technology affected the more mundane existence of everyday life with television, multi-floored apartment buildings, better transportation, improved services and electric power, and other assorted developments that came as a natural byproduct of the country’s entry into modernity. Mevlut continued to prefer the grass to the concrete, the family and friends to the strangers, and simplicity to the complexity of modern day life. While progress improved his daily life, it created distance and troubles between people. There seemed to be a growing culture of corruption. Little lies led to bigger ones. Small tricks led to greater deceptions and sometimes life became more dangerous. All authority seemed to be a bit corrupt and success went to the most devious, power hungry among them.
The author painted a picture of Turkish life as Istanbul morphed into a more modern city, while at the same time, he illuminated Mevlut’s constant desire to keep his world the same. The modern world, with all of its benefits, did not really intrigue him. Because he had walked the streets singing out Boza, and because he had entered the homes of strangers, he bore witness to the political and religious changes taking place as Turkey moved more and more into the modern world. He also witnessed the corruption, the betrayals, the bullies, the gangs, the lying and the deceitful behavior that were the negative side effects of this modernizing, as people driven by greed and a desire for power often resorted to unethical behavior. He too, had ample opportunity to get richer and engage in dishonorable behavior, but he resisted temptation, maintained his father’s values and steadily plodded along, never wishing to hurt or cheat anyone. He saw the way in which the ancient ways and the modern began to coexist, sometimes comfortably and sometimes in chaos as one group or another tried to gain the advantage. He preferred the old ways to the new.
In the end, Mevlut always wondered if the strangeness in his mind simply existed in his head or was in the world around him .The philosophy of the Holy Man, expressed in the words imparted to Mevlut, when he visited with him to seek his help, were prescient. He said, “It does not matter whether your heart intends to pray, the most important thing is to truly pray”. I believe that Mevlut realized that he may have intended to love Samiha in his heart, but he truly loved Rayiha!
The story played out very deliberately and methodically, in an easy going manner that matched Mevlut’s personality. It was neither exciting nor dull, but slow and steady. Sometimes there was a bit too much detail; the descriptions of a particular moment in time, down to the food being eaten, became tedious. Although the audio was read well by the narrator, I would suggest the print copy over the audio since the foreign words and names were not easy to understand.

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review 2016-01-17 15:05
Pamuk's Snow
Snow - Orhan Pamuk,Maureen Freely

In the end this book was a disappointment.  As I began to read, I was intrigued, but I became less and less interested as it goes along.  The book is a postmodern novel.  It reads a lot like Milan Kundera and is about, love, relationships, politics, and Islam versus the West.  It is somewhat dreamlike and surreal, but not quite magical realism.

The prose is fine.  The characters are weird and do not think like normal people.  I do not think that this is a cultural problem, I just don't think that the psychology is very good.  It does concern the important topic of the clash of ideas between Islam and the West which of course continues to define modern Turkey, but I didn't find it very insightful on that.

Over all a disappointment, which is a shame, because I was very much looking forward to it.

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