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Istanbul (Vintage International) [Kindle Edition]

Orhan Pamuk , Ara Guler
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (115 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.95
Kindle Price: $11.84
You Save: $5.11 (30%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

A shimmering evocation, by turns intimate and panoramic, of one of the world’s great cities, by its foremost writer. Orhan Pamuk was born in Istanbul and still lives in the family apartment building where his mother first held him in her arms. His portrait of his city is thus also a self-portrait, refracted by memory and the melancholy–or hüzün– that all Istanbullus share: the sadness that comes of living amid the ruins of a lost empire.With cinematic fluidity, Pamuk moves from his glamorous, unhappy parents to the gorgeous, decrepit mansions overlooking the Bosphorus; from the dawning of his self-consciousness to the writers and painters–both Turkish and foreign–who would shape his consciousness of his city. Like Joyce’s Dublin and Borges’ Buenos Aires, Pamuk’s Istanbul is a triumphant encounter of place and sensibility, beautifully written and immensely moving.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Turkish novelist Pamuk (Snow) presents a breathtaking portrait of a city, an elegy for a dead civilization and a meditation on life's complicated intimacies. The author, born in 1952 into a rapidly fading bourgeois family in Istanbul, spins a masterful tale, moving from his fractured extended family, all living in a communal apartment building, out into the city and encompassing the entire Ottoman Empire. Pamuk sees the slow collapse of the once powerful empire hanging like a pall over the city and its citizens. Central to many Istanbul residents' character is the concept of hüzün (melancholy). Istanbul's hüzün, Pamuk writes, "is a way of looking at life that... is ultimately as life affirming as it is negating." His world apparently in permanent decline, Pamuk revels in the darkness and decay manifest around him. He minutely describes horrific accidents on the Bosphorus Strait and his own recurring fantasies of murder and mayhem. Throughout, Pamuk details the breakdown of his family: elders die, his parents fight and grow apart, and he must find his way in the world. This is a powerful, sometimes disturbing literary journey through the soul of a great city told by one of its great writers. 206 photos. (June 10)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Reminiscent of works by Jorge Luis Borges and Gabriel García Márquez, Pamuk’s novels, mostly set in his native Turkey, have racked up an International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, New York Times Notable Books of the Year, and profiles on NPR (see Snow, ***1/2 Nov/Dec 2004). Marcel Proust comes to many critics’ minds when describing Istanbul, an introspective account that transcends the memoir, as it also describes a city losing its identity. More than a city or guide book, Istanbul is "the most haunting, heartbreaking, gorgeous book ever about a city," says The San Diego Union-Tribune. Although Pamuk’s memoir concludes with his adolescence, it rings true to the universal coming-of-age experience.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 24100 KB
  • Print Length: 400 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B009IBM6R2
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (December 5, 2006)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000MAHBZ0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,622 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
143 of 146 people found the following review helpful
Istanbul has been the designated intersection between East and West for centuries, and as a past tourist there, I have felt the resulting richness in culture and history as I visited the city's landmarks. However, author Orhan Pamuk takes a different view as a native of the city - a pervasive confusion over identity in reconciling the often conflicting sympathies of different cultures. In fact, he feels that there is an overwhelming sense of melancholy. As a Turk, Pamuk knows of which he speaks in this intriguing memoir as he grew up during the Atatürk revolution. He is not caught up in the inherent exoticism of the city but rather what he sees as a critical juncture between past and present. The past is represented by the Ottoman Empire, a multilingual dynasty whose heart once beat in Istanbul, its once dazzling capital. But the empire no longer exists, except in the surviving imperial mansions and memorials, the marble fountains and clapboard waterside villas. Yet, all the remnants are deteriorating as developers take hold of the real estate.

In Pamuk's view, the Ottoman past is a foreign country for the Turks. The present is the Turkish Republic, Atatürk's secular, Western-oriented, homogenizing nation state now centered in Ankara, an outgrown Anatolian village. Pamuk spends much of the book understandably mourning the replacement of the Empire with the nondescript country that is Turkey now. Sometimes his disappointed tone can be wearing, but Pamuk's honesty is bracing. Politically and economically, Istanbul is no longer a city of consequence, let alone a world capital. It is an insular little place sinking in its own ruins, "so poor and confused that it can never again dream of rising to its former heights of wealth, power and culture".
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180 of 201 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very memorable ! July 27, 2005
In 1923 when Turkey became a republic, Muslim Turks made up half of Istanbul's population of about a million. The other half consisted of Jews, Armenians, Greeks, Italians and other non-Muslim ethnic groups. The city was truly cosmopolitan and highly fashionable in the 1960s when Pamuk was growing up in upscale Nisantasi district: Non-Muslim religious temples outnumbered mosques even then, although the population has unevenly grown to 1.5 million in favor of Muslim Turks. One could order ham or pork sausages for breakfast in most restaurants or drink lemon flavored vodka at Rejans, a Russian restaurant run by two emigrant White Russian ladies, in Beyoglu. In those days, Istanbul was a visibly secular, highly sophisticated, cultured and refined city.

Today, Istanbul has a bustling population of about 12 million people where the non-Muslim population can hardly reach 100 thousand in total. Some churches and synagogues are closed most of the time because of lack of attendance and funds. Pera (or Beyoglu) is no longer a cosmopolitan community despite its long surviving name. The city has a much different, lackluster character now. It looks tired, burdened by heavy traffic, crowded streets and dense housing.

When Orhan Pamuk reflects on his life in Istanbul, he cannot help feeling melancholic about it because the city has now been inundated by an influx of conservative migrants from rural Turkey. While walking around in working-class districts similar to Fatih or Carsamba, a secular Istanbullu (like Pamuk himself) would indeed feel depressed. Clad in clothes compliant with Islamic values, overpowering number of bearded men and headscarved women would contrast very poorly to the secular images of the past.

For me, this book is not as simple as it appears at first glance.
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130 of 145 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Huzun in the City June 21, 2005
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Ah, to understand a Turk. To comprehend a vast, neglected city like Istanbul, a once-splendid hub of empire and now the veritable locus of "East Meets West." Even better, to glimpse intimately, what makes a great author, great. If you haven't read any of Orhan Pamuk's work, reading this fine memoir is the perfect place to start, it can only whet your appetite for future readings. If like me, you lament that nothing remains unread in Pamuk's translated canon, then this book will feel like pure luxury, like a series of grace notes floating over a collection of excellent fiction.

"Istanbul: Memories and the City" has many tender accounts of the author's childhood and family life along with insightful musings on the character of Istanbul and its denizens, the Istanbullis. Certainly, the book's central theme is an exploration of how relationship and birthplace make us what we are. As Mr. Pamuk makes plain, (and lucky for us) he was born in no ordinary city. In addition, the book harkens directly to the zany, dream-afflicted characters found abundantly in Mr. Pamuk's work, which the memoir makes amply clear, are so much in their parts . . . like unto himself.

Once again, Pamuk has us pondering the structure and nuance of Identity, this time as a grand idea explored through the medium of childhood and birthplace. The sensitive candor with which Mr. Pamuk describes his background and relationship to the City is quite touching. The chief literary pleasure of the book has to be the chapter describing "Huzun" (which may be an aging sister to notions of "Kismet"). "Huzun," according to Pamuk, is a collective melancholy consisting of, in differing degree; longing, nostalgia and unrequited love. Mr.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
If you are going to visit Istanbul, this is a must read. I reread for a recent visit.
Published 7 days ago by barbara brookes
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Very nice but doesn't pull the history together.
Published 11 days ago by dennis nabors
5.0 out of 5 stars I was recommended this book by the city of Istanbul (Spoilers)
I visited Istanbul briefly recently without knowing what to expect. I was stunned by its beauty, history and allure. I came home wanting to know more. Read more
Published 14 days ago by David Holmes
3.0 out of 5 stars Noble Prize Winning Novelist Writes Memoir Littered with TMI
TMI means "too much information." In the case of Orhan Pamuk's memoir of growing up in Istanbul let me just warn the reader: this kind of book gathers literary merit by obsessing... Read more
Published 16 days ago by Ranger
2.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful visuals of the city, but ….
I know this author has won the nobel prize, but this book just felt like a lot of whining to me. Maybe I'll give one of his other books a try. Read more
Published 1 month ago by K. Spangler
5.0 out of 5 stars Capturing the essence of a once-great city….
A lovely bittersweet book of reminiscences, especially if you knew Istanbul in the good ol' days….it's now a megalopolis with unbearable traffic, though it's staggeringly fabulous... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Jane Myers
5.0 out of 5 stars A Tale of One City
Orhan Pamuk's style is not appreciated by everyone. People who expect a saucy novel should not read this book. Read more
Published 3 months ago by eregibra algibra
2.0 out of 5 stars not what I expected
The length of the book makes impossible for a SAMPLE to provide a general idea of the content. Reading the sample, I thought that it would be a nice way to learn about the city,... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Rosa Ines Merello
5.0 out of 5 stars infused with the beauty and misery of an adolescent in Istanbul
A beautiful memoir by Istanbul's preeminent author; a melancholic journey of a young boy growing up in a complicated and soulful city. A city with which he is deeply identified. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Reader
1.0 out of 5 stars Istanbul, by Orhan Pamuk
That was one of the most difficult books I have ever read. I am an eternal optimist. That author is an eternal pessimest. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Marilyn Hewlett
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