by Orhan Pamuk

Other authorsMaureen Freely (Translator)
Hardcover, 2004





New York : Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 2004.


From the award-winning author of 'My Name is Red' comes this political thriller. After 12 years in Germany, a poet Ka returns to Istanbul for his mother's funeral. In a dangerous political atmosphere, the truth concerning the poet and the snow-covered old world city of Kars is revealed.

Media reviews

This seventh novel from the Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk is not only an engrossing feat of tale-spinning, but essential reading for our times.

User reviews

LibraryThing member cbl_tn
Ka, a Turkish poet, has been living in exile in Germany for the last decade. His mother's death brings him back to Istanbul, but the thought of an old acquaintance soon draws him to the provincial town of Kars. Ka's excuse for visiting Kars is that he wants to write a newspaper story about the recent suicides among the headscarf girls and about the local elections. His real reason for the visit is to renew his acquaintance with Ipek, who he's learned is now divorced from his poet friend Muhtar. He secretly hopes to persuade Ipek to marry him and return to Germany with him. A heavy snowfall strands him in Kars for several days, and circumstance and fate drive the course of events. The snowbound city reawakens Ka's muse, and he begins to write poems again after a drought of many years.

There is an undercurrent of paranoia throughout the book. While Ka is disturbed to learn that he's under surveillance, the residents of Kars accept this as normal. Nothing can be taken at face value. The local newspaper publisher writes about the day's events before they happen. Everyone Ka meets has an opinion about who he should trust and who he should avoid – but can he trust anyone's advice?

Ka's thoughts and feelings come second-hand to the reader, through a friend who knows the details of Ka's visit. Does the reader get a clear picture of Ka, or has it been distorted by his friend's interpretation of Ka's actions and motivations?

Like Salman Rushdie in Midnight's Children, Pamuk does provide some interpretive suggestions for the reader. Even with these hints, it still requires effort to work out the symbolism and structure of the novel. I think most readers will find it worth their effort to read, and possibly re-read, since I think it falls in that category of novels that hold back some rewards for the second reading.
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LibraryThing member tchelyzt
It’s nice to be European. There is currently no better place to live on the planet. Ireland found wealth and individual freedom by joining Europe. As Europe expands, I’ve been a supporter, glad to give other nations the same chance we had. However, when Turkey joined the queue, I hesitated; partly because I think Europe is growing too fast and showing growing pains; but mainly because I feared Turkey shows none of the characteristics I think it needs to be European. After reading this fantastic book, I haven’t changed my mind.

Ka is an exiled poet with writer’s block. An intelligent, sensitive and lonely man, he is no hero or danger to the regime and his exile even looks like the result of a misunderstanding. On a return visit to Turkey, he refinds his muse and the poetry begins to flow. A minor local insurgency erupts and the various powers and influences all come to regard him as a pawn in their ambitions. Ka is no hero and though principled he is full of complexes and lies to all around him. His only real concern is finding happiness which he feels has eluded him all his life. The result is a deeply poetic and intelligent novel which explores political and religious questions in modern Turkey. The cast includes lovely characters including an insurgent actor, his adoring complicit belly-dancer wife, a very pliable newspaper editor, a peaceful islamic radical, the beautiful woman who is the object of Ka’s amorous attentions and her veiled sister.

Trying to pin down just what makes me uncomfortable about Turkey, I’ve concluded it’s not Islam. Most of the wonderful characters in this book are worth sharing Europe with. Orhan Pamuk presents all their positions in what sounds to me a balanced way and they all have merit. Naturally, as a westerner, I’m not comfortable with Islamic notions or freedom or individuality, but I don’t think that this is what has convinced me that Europe is not ready for Turkey. I think what turned me against Turkey was the police; the surveillance; the torture; all carried out at the behest of the State. Frequent comparisons with Iran also disturbed me. When Turkey is ready to resolve differences between its very different peoples in a tolerant European way, it will be ready for Europe. Before that, Europe would only be importing tensions that could spread like a virus.

Indeed, Pamuk himself has been on the receiving end of state oppression and a pawn in their European membership ambitions. He was charged with insulting Turkishness, giving rise to an international outcry. The charges were dropped on a technicality when the EU began reviewing the Turkish legal system.

Orhan Pamuk received the 2006 Nobel Prize for Literature.
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LibraryThing member kambrogi
This much-praised work by the Turkish winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature is a dense, challenging work, less for its language than for its meaning. It tells the story of the fictional Turkish poet Ka who, after being exiled for twelve years in Germany, returns to his country for his mother’s funeral, then travels on to the isolated border town of Kars, where he intends to investigate the mysterious suicides of Muslim girls, and court a newly-divorced woman whom he knew in his youthful student/radical days. It is clear that Ka is no longer interested in the concerns of his youth, that he prefers to pursue happiness beyond everything else – beyond courage, truth or even God. The book certainly explores the ongoing conflict between West and East which is at the heart of Turkish cultural and political life, but its use of snow and a variety of other motifs throughout the novel is not so easy to parse. Some readers may need an expert to help unlock the book's meanings.… (more)
LibraryThing member daniel.links
I was disappointed by this book. The background (and foreground) topic of religion, secularism and politics in a small Turkish town seemed extremely promising, and seeing it through the the prism of a local coup was a novel idea. Unfortunately I found the knowing first person narration by someone we never met extremely irritating throughout the novel, which marred my enjoyment.
More importantly however I never cam to identify with any of the characters, and thus, as they went through some terrible traumas, you felt you were reading the book, not a story you were caught up in.
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LibraryThing member AbhayK
Snow by Orhan Pamuk (ISBN 0375706860)

Snow by Orhan Pamuk is a masterpiece of literary work. The novel is set in a small isolated border town of Turkey, Kar, where once upon a time rich Russians and Armenians lived and prospered, of which the architectural remains still bear the witness. Kars since then has fallen, its glorious days are over and now the town is in the grip of radical Islam and a playground for radical Islamists, believers in God and the secularists backed by the State (Army and the Intelligence Agencies). The book Snow is essentially about the great chasm that exists between these two forces in the Turkish society and in the world today and how this chasm is hurting our well being. This book also takes a peek into the empty world of persons in the political exile or economic exile (immigrants) cut from their roots living in more prosperous countries.

The protagonist of the book KA is a Turkish poet in political exile in Germany. He was born in a middle class family in Istanbul in a posh area and was educated in the elite schools and colleges of Istanbul. He does not like his full Turkish name and likes to be called by the abbreviation of his name i.e. KA. He is in his forties, unmarried and a loner.
KA returns to Turkey actually in search of beautiful Ipek , a classmate from the school days who has been married and now divorced but his strong ego covers this real reason from Ka himself and he thinks that he has come to Kar to report about the headscarf girls who have been committing suicide in Kar.

The novel is a great political satire where the theatre and politics blend into each others, a newspaper predicts the coming events in Kar and predicts them successfully than reporting the events, the whole machinery of intelligence is deployed to verify the rumors about a Sherbet that has been newly introduced in Kar, that people say poisons the Turks but has no impact on the Armenians, where about a third of the city is employed as informers, an Islamic science fiction written by one of the high school students, people wearing tape-recorders to record the statements of the killers before going into the streets.

Snow also discovers the psychological split in the minds of men and women when the two forces compete for space with each other, when one force has the advantage over the other and the other has only hope. Ka is in love with Ipek and after so many years has come to the conclusion that only love is the answers to find true happiness in this world. Ipek too is attracted to Ka but needs some time to trust. Her sister Kadife, the head of the headscarf girls is a secret mistress of Blue, a radical Islamist, the second most important character in the novel. Ka though in love with Ipek is attracted to Kadife as well who is a hero/heroine for the religious high school boys.

Ipek was married to a radical Islam politician Muhtar who is preparing to become the mayor of Kar with his radical Islamists support base. He has found a mentor in Blue who enters his family life and in no time Ipek falls for Blue that leads to Ipek’s divorce with Muhtar. Very soon the younger Kadife over smarts her own sister and goes out of the way putting headscarf to win Blue’s heart. Ipek now meets Ka and thinks she can learn to love him and they can live happily ever after in Berlin but Blue is raided and killed by the secularists who had been looking for him since years and Ipek thinks Ka is the informer and he did so because of his jealousy for Blue. Though it’s not confirm who was the informer but Ipek can never love Ka as heart thinks he is responsible for the death of Blue. The author here has clearly shown through the love angles in Snow that a radical Islamist is inherently more appealing than a wavering poet who is tolerant and open to all ideas and viewpoints.

Ka returns to Germany alone when the snow is over and the town of Kar gets connected with the rest of the world again but never to live in peace again…he is haunted by the events in Kar, the beautiful Ipek and how he lost the only chance to be happy.

Snow is a brilliant work of art and any true lover of literature, politics, psychology and those who are truly interested in the world we live in today should read Orhan Pamuk’s Snow.
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LibraryThing member juliette07
In this book an exiled poet returns to Turkey in turbulent times with Islamist and secular intrigue set in the somewhat surreal town of Kars. The town is cut off by a blizzard thus making the setting all the more surreal, not to mention the poems of the poet that play such a central part but never appear.
There were times when I felt I would not get through this work. Yet something in the writing drove me on despite my having to re-read bits, reflect and go back in places. I kept asking myself ... why? Was it the politics and my lack of understanding of the situation? Was it the inaccessibility of the unusual? Maybe of more interest I should suggest we ask what is it that kept me going? Something to do with the quality of writing. the clever and reflective use of the 'snow' theme. The latter certainly intrigued me ... I really wanted to learn about Turkey and the state - religion, change, politics and traditions. To be honest what I learnt from this novel seems very much at odds from what I glean from the news and BBC, but hey who says they have the monopoly of what is ‘truth’.

Considering some inexplicable element drove me on I have been trying to understand ‘why’? So what is this book about we wonder? It is about the tensions of change and education, it is involved with politics, East - West tensions and religion, the wearing of headscarves and theatre. We see events from the fundamentalists point of view and their concern regarding the growth of liberalism. We witness the murder of the Director of Education Institute in the New Life Pastry shop. He was wired for sound and we eavesdrop the harrowing conversation with his killer. Violence seems so commonplace in Kars the Turkish town in which the novel is set. Day to day life is in such stark contrast to my life, my expectations of the society in which I live, my freedoms and my professional life. Yet, the counterbalance to this horrendous violence is the love of the main character Ka for Ipek. To say it is complex, multi layered and a challenge is a bit of an understatement as far as this reader is concerned! From time to time I felt I was missing the point or was not sufficiently knowledgeable to understand some of the dialogue and cultural elements.

Overall I think this book is quality and deserving of the acclaim it has received but for me I felt that the author was simply making it too difficult for me, the reader to become truly engaged.
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LibraryThing member vpfluke
There are a fair number of reviews of this book in LT, so I am just going to dwell on what I think are some poignant themes.

Ka, a poet, has returned from Germany to the city of Kars in northeastern Turkey to investigate the meaning of observant Islamic girls who commit suicide. It's a complex issue of whether a woman should wear the full-covering scarf, and what that means to ones religion and the problem that causes for Turkey's government as a secular state. The story includes a love quadrangle.

The book is called "Snow" in English, which is an apt symbol for this book. It is called "Kar" in Turkish, a name that brings up associations that noone in an English speaking country would have.

The snow symbolizes the theme of silence that permeates the novel. The snow that falls incessantly during the story of the novel is not violent, but relentless, so that passage in and out of Kars is impossible. There is an emptiness when Ka walks the streets of Kars. Another silence is that of Armenians, who used to live widely in this part of Turkey, and are now gone. Their legacy is shown by the number of Armenian buildings pointing to a more glorious past.

Kars is a provincial city (at 130,000 population, it is larger than a town). It is presented as something of a backwater, but with a signficant legacy that can't be proclaimed.

Another silence is that of the 19 poems that Ka writes during his stay in Kars. They were kept in a special green notebook, but are now all lost and no one can even remember the few lines that were spoken publicly. I've wondered whther this is an allusion to the Pamuk not being a poet, or has written unpublished poetry.

The narrator is a person who knows Ka ral well, but never shows up as a character in the novel, but only as a private force, leading me to believe he is some sort of alter ego of the write Orhan Pamuk himself.
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LibraryThing member bibliobibuli
I had to to force myself through every page.

It isn't so much the plot that got to me. I'm fascinated to read about Turkey, and about the clash of extremism and secularism. I liked the way different characters are allowed to give their viewpoints.

I like the slightly surreal setting - the impoverished, provincial city of Kar and the relentless snow which has cut it off from the rest of the world. The issues interested me - and I really wanted to know why the "headscarf girls" are committing suicide. I liked the fact that the main character is overcoming his writer's block and getting inspired. And there are some nicely farcical moments (the description of the political theatre is funny).

It feels like a C19th novel. (I feel there are echoes of Dostoevsky.) But the writing is just so terribly terribly DULL. The dialogue is turgid, and not a single character comes alive. Ka (the poet), is such a wimp, I really don't care what happens to him. Much of this may be due to the translation, of course. In this novel of ideas, Pamuk's prose wears heavy snowboots.
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LibraryThing member klarusu
On the surface this is a book about a poet, Ka, who returns to Turkey after twelve years of political exile and, on the recommendation of a friend, visits Kars. This town has recently experienced a rash of suicides among young women and is involved in a verbal conflict and public debate about the practice of covering women's heads. It's indicative of the conflict between religious observance and atheism and the East and the West that simmers below the surface here. The early part of the novel is narrated from the perspective of Ka himself and the action focuses on a short period of time while Kars is cut off from the rest of Turkey by a heavy snowfall. As the town is isolated, so the action itself becomes more detached from reality. The snow itself a symbol that touches so many levels of this novel.

During this time, the reader follows the interactions of many characters: Ka, the idealistic poet, irritating, hypocritical and self-absorbed; the shallow, vain and selfish Ipek; Kadife, her sister, the principled leader of the headscarf girls; Blue, a dogmatic and unpleasant reactionary Islamic fundamentalist; Sunay, the farcical and pitiful actor looking for one last moment in the spotlight before his reknown fades. Personally, I found none of the characters that likeable and certainly couldn't empathise with their situations, so what surprised me was how much I liked the novel. Normally, if I don't empathise with anyone, I find it hard to make a connection with a novel. As I analysed this and read further, I realised that the voice of the narrator, a friend of Ka's, that dominates the storytelling in later parts of the novel, appealed to me initially on a subconscious level. At a similar time, without giving too much away, the novel shifts and is no longer about Ka himself, but more about the lost poems he wrote during his time in Kars. His experiences are seen in the context of these mythical, absent entities that become characters themselves. I found myself wishing that they not be found as to hear them would shatter the image of their meaning that Pamuk's description had given me.

Herein lies some of the brilliance of this novel. The reader comes to appreciate the poems from the meaning and inspiration behind them without actually hearing them. First we are introduced to the characters from Ka's perspective, later the narrator (who we are led to believe is Pamuk) sheds new light on them as he travels to Kars in search of Ka's notebook, the poems and some kind of explanation behind events he has recounted.

I won't add more because I don't want to spoil this for anyone who hasn't yet read it. I can say that it is an easy read and on one level not challenging to the reader. On another level, however, as you begin to appreciate the layers in this book, it becomes highly thought-provoking, asking the reader to delve beyond the surface to get the most from it. It is definitely one of my 'Recommended Reads'!
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LibraryThing member gregorymose
A slow, peculiar, and oddly emotional book. Following a Turkish poet as he visits a regional town in eastern Anatolia nominally to do a newspaper article about girls committing suicide, the book takes the reader on a journey through Turkish secular politics, Islamist discontent and the emotional struggles of one atheist Turk rediscovering his conflicted desire to return to the Muslim faith. This is of interest to anyone curious about modern Turkey but, more broadly, to anyone who has felt the conflict between atheism and a longing to believe. Pamuk is a thoughtful, inventive, disconcerting and at times quite funny writer. He writes as if uninterested in human emotion and yet nails those emotions perfectly.… (more)
LibraryThing member Morddel
I find Pamuk is great at starting a story, at setting up a plot, but he never seems to be able to follow through with it. Still, this comes as close as anything I have read to describing the country as I saw it when I lived in Istanbul.
LibraryThing member Yasmin
There is always a problem with reading books in translation, because the reader can't easily say whether the vices and virtues of a book are those of the author or the translator. Snow was the first, and thus far the only book by Orhan Pamuk I have read, but his translator, Maureen Freely, is perhaps more qualified than most for her role, and Pamuk himself regards her highly. Nonethless, I began reading this novel and found it was like reading in a fog. I kept seeing shapes, but then they would disappear. What was the novel about?

I was perhaps a third of the way through when the mesmerising quality of the novel, the characters and their world began to draw me in. I had only been to Turkey once before reading this book, to Istanbul, so the world of Kars was far outside my own experience. But I've known educated, worldly Turks living in Europe, and I've seen quarters of German cities where exiles live, and I've been close to the way political tensions work between diaspora and exiled individuals and those engaged in an unsatisfactory politics of homeland, and slowly all these elements that I could recognise helped me to get a sense of what Snow meant.

It is a deeply political novel, but not in the sense of 'taking a position' or anything as crude as that. Rather, Pamuk describes the texture of a political culture in which ideological allegiances vie with social ties, and ambivalence pervades all encounters, including sexual encounters.

I read the novel a year ago, but it haunts me still. Last summer I went to Turkey for a holiday, and in a supermarket I saw some cheese from Kars. I knew so little, I hadn't realised that the place was real! The cheese, by the way, is strongly flavoured, distinctive, and has a very weird texture. Much like Snow.
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LibraryThing member icolford
This magnificent book does more than tell a profoundly engaging and emotionally fraught story while tackling morally contentious and divisive political and religious issues gripping modern Turkey. It is one of those rare novels that affirms the power of fiction to move and instruct while staying true to its origins as a mode of entertainment. Turkish poet Kerim Alakusoglu, known by the name Ka (his initials), returns to Istanbul for his mother's funeral after twelve years of political exile in Frankfurt. Drawn eastward to the socially backward and culturally isolated city of Kars by reports of girls committing suicide because they've been expelled from school for wearing head scarves, he is thrust into the key role of go-between in the tense aftermath of a violent military coup. Also in Kars, as he discovers, is Ipek, a beautiful friend from his youth. The complex plot resists easy summary, but in the space of three days, with snow blanketing the city, Ka roams the streets, meets the city's main characters, falls in love, writes nineteen poems, and is forced to peer within himself to discover what motivates him to behave as he does. Four years after leaving Kars Ka is gunned down on the streets of Frankfurt, and the story is narrated by his novelist friend Orhan, who is investigating the time Ka spent in Kars and also searching for the lost notebook containing the nineteen poems. Orhan Pamuk has a finely tuned sense of the absurd and his whimsical touch adds lightness to a narrative densely packed with detail, incident and character. But his greatest strength is an almost magical ability to generate sympathy for all his characters, regardless of their political or religious affiliation. A challenging but wonderfully entertaining and immensely satisfying reading experience.… (more)
LibraryThing member lieslmayerson
I enjoyed this book and feel like I should give it a higher rating, but was left a little disappointed because I went into it with incredibly high expectations. It hit upon one of my favorite themes of what is home and what is belonging and I think it did a good job with these themes. The story was good and I think that my appreciation of it was enhanced by having been to Turkey and following to some extent some of the struggles Turkey has gone through in its own definition of self. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy heavier fiction and to those who have visited or are visitng Turkey. I would not be surprised if I reread it again. A few of my fav lines:-"cleansed by memories of innocence and childhood, he succumbed to optimism and dared to believe himself at home in this world."-"The cruelest truth of all: The thing that binds us together is that we have both lowered our expectations of life."-"There are two kinds of Communists: the arrogant ones, who enter the fray hoping to make men out of the people and bring progress to the nation; and the innocent ones, who get involved because they believe in equality and justice. The arrogant ones are obsessed with power; they presume to think for everyone... But the innocents?... They feel so guilty about the suffering of the poor, and are so keen to share it, that they make their lives miserable on purpose."… (more)
LibraryThing member jwhenderson
Orhan Pamuk' s novel is set in the winter of 1992 in the city of Kars in the north-eastern part of Turkey. The story is narrated by Pamuk himself as he tells of the poet journalist Kerim Alakusoglu, known as Ka, who has traveled to this remote town to write about the events surrounding a group of young women who are committing suicide rather than give up their headscarves. This is a very contemporary story of the clash between devout Islamists and the secular state that controls Turkey. Isolating the action in the snowbound town of Kars we learn of the tensions through Ka's interviews with various citizens. Pamuk's narrative style presents a pastiche of events that blend together to form the story with both love and politics coming to the fore. The many surprises and shocks of the story kept me interested and I found new fascination for the contemporary history of Turkey. The translation by Maureen Freely, who has translated several of Pamuk's novels, is excellent.… (more)
LibraryThing member mthelibrarian
I picked up this book club choice (which had been on a shelf in my house for years) during a snowstorm in January. I took my time with it and found it to be perfect for a very snowy month. Even though it's fiction, I still had an opinion about where the poems were hidden (in the library that the poet always visited) and was fascinated when the narrator turned out to be the author himself (a secret kept through much of the book). The book made me want to read more by this author, particularly "My Name is Red" because a book club member vehemently insisted upon "Snow" rather than "My Name is Red" for our Pamuk pick.… (more)
LibraryThing member firebird013
Entirely brilliant, in this story of a writer cut off in a remote town by snow, Pamuk uses this as a microcosm of the fissures and stresses dominating Turkey at the moment. The story is gripping, beautiful in parts, with strong characterisation. There are moments of high comedy and times when he shocks with the way the story unfolds. Highly recommended.… (more)
LibraryThing member christinameldrum
SNOW is the story of Ka, an exiled poet who returns from Germany to Kars, a small town in Turkey, purportedly to report on a rash of suicides by religious girls who are legally forbidden to wear head scarves. The head scarf debate is a hot political issue in Turkey even today, yet Ka's return to Turkey is driven less by an interest in politics and more by an interest in Ipek, a beautiful woman who lives Kars. Although Ka is not particularly interested in the political situation, his behavior while in Kars lands him in the center of a political storm that erupts during an actual snow storm-- a storm which leaves Kars temporarily isolated from the rest of Turkey.
Pamuk uses the image of snow beautifully and effectively as an analogy throughout the story. He also does a wonderful job of capturing the complexity of Turkey as a country that bridges East and West. Pamuk poignantly portrays the nuanced tension between religion and secularism, rich and poor and educated and uneducated. He manages to do this through both plot twists and character development.
That said, at times SNOW seemed like snow itself, a random sprinkling, but of people and of information, particularly related to Ka's poetry. Some of the characters were far better developed than others. And some of the plot points verged on being absurdist.
Even so, SNOW is an important and timely book that deserves to be read.
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LibraryThing member bell7
Ka, a Turkish poet recently returned from exile in Germany, travels to Kars to investigate the recent suicides of "head scarf girls," the young women who wear head scarves in protest of the laws that do not allow them to wear them to university. Also, not incidentally, this is where a women he knew in school, Ipek, lives after her divorce. After his arrival, Kars is cut off from the rest of the country by a snowstorm that closes the roads.

This rich tale is hard to explain. It unfolds in such a way that it is hard to describe accurately, since what seems important for the first 50 pages or so turn out not to be the main focus of this exploration of the tension between the secularists and the Islamists, politics and performance, personal happiness and duty. The narration distances us from events and characters by its layered narration. Though most of the story is told from Ka's perspective the actual narrator - a friend of Ka's who is unnamed for much of the story - knows the end of events before he begins, and will often speak directly to the reader about these future events. While in Kars (which means "snow"), Ka finds himself able to write poetry even while he is faced with questions about his own identity and faith, or lack of it. He becomes a (possibly?) unwilling participant in events that leave the narrator and reader intentionally fuzzy about exactly what happens. Not for the fainthearted reader, but for one willing to persevere and pick apart the novel, it's a meaty and involving read.
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LibraryThing member idyll
This is an important book. For one thing, the author may well be assassinated, in part for having written it. Turkey is in a fascinating place in today's world: the border between the West and Islam and Pamuk lays out the issues with painful clarity. At times, the book feels downright Dostoyevskian. 'Snow' does suffer from 'political novel' disease, but it isn't fatal. The characters feel, for the most part, like real people, not cardboard stand-ins. My main complaint is the ultimate spinelessness of the main character. The West is left without a defender, though my intuition is that Pamuk himself is not so ambivalent.… (more)
LibraryThing member hannahbond
I picked up this book because I thought that it might reveal something of Turkish culture to me. The book is quite complex, with many layers, sometimes funny and touching, sometimes almost impersonal and didactic. Many times I was confused about what motivated and drove the characters. Author Pamuk seems to go to some pain to reveal different points of view -- secularist, radical and moderate Islamist, Western, female, male, etc. -- but I just could not really relate. Although touching moments are revealed in each of these factions, representatives of all of them commit violence during the story, and the reactions to these atrocities were so casual and blase that they seemed incredible. Several themes stood out, including: feelings of guilt when "too much" happiness comes Ka's way, the childish need of men to have women devote their full attention to them at a moment's notice, the Islamic sense that Western culture is somehow superior and the resulting anger and tensions. I'm not sure if this is a great book, but it offers plenty of food for thought.… (more)
LibraryThing member bethmal
I put this one down half way through and still haven't found myself desperate enough to pick it back up. This just wasn't my cup of tea.
LibraryThing member brakketh
Great book, love the imagery and the characters. Becomes a little laborious towards the end but I still thoroughly enjoyed this book.
LibraryThing member kcaroth1
This is an interesting, highly detailed novel that not only explores a poet's relationships but presents it in the wider view of critical issues in Turkey's history. The backdrop of a play that turns into a coup d'etat attempt in a small Turkish town is facinating and allows diversions to all sorts of characters and situations.
I can't say that I liked this novel as much as Istanbul or My Name is Red but it is still an interesting perspective on Turkey.
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LibraryThing member dperry
I was completely bored by this book for the first 250 pages, doubting my ability to appreciate good literature. But I stuck it out and it was well worth it. The book, I thought, developed in an amazing way. All of the things I was most impressed with came late, such as the conflation of drama and reality seen in the two theater productions and in the very book itself; the eerie way both Ka and Fazil identified with their dead friends and loved their buddies’ women; and the stunning way that Pamuk ended up explaining Ka’s obsession with snowflakes and his silly snowflake diagram for organizing his poems (and which ultimately revealed to the narrator the answer to a critical question about Ka and Ipek). And of course the ending, when he plays with sympathetic, liberal Western readers by making us wonder if we can ever get past simplified, essentialized images of poor people and Muslims, even when a writer as skilled as Pamuk takes care to never depict his characters through such stereotypes. It was definitely unlike anything I’ve ever read.… (more)


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