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Snow Hardcover – Deckle Edge, August 17, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A Turkish poet who spent 12 years as a political exile in Germany witnesses firsthand the clash between radical Islam and Western ideals in this enigmatically beautiful novel. Ka's reasons for visiting the small Turkish town of Kars are twofold: curiosity about the rash of suicides by young girls in the town and a hope to reconnect with "the beautiful Ipek," whom he knew as a youth. But Kars is a tangle of poverty-stricken families, Kurdish separatists, political Islamists (including Ipek's spirited sister Kadife) and Ka finds himself making compromises with all in a desperate play for his own happiness. Ka encounters government officials, idealistic students, leftist theater groups and the charismatic and perhaps terroristic Blue while trying to convince Ipek to return to Germany with him; each conversation pits warring ideologies against each other and against Ka's own weary melancholy. Pamuk himself becomes an important character, as he describes his attempts to piece together "what really happened" in the few days his friend Ka spent in Kars, during which snow cuts off the town from the rest of the world and a bloody coup from an unexpected source hurtles toward a startling climax. Pamuk's sometimes exhaustive conversations and descriptions create a stark picture of a too-little-known part of the world, where politics, religion and even happiness can seem alternately all-consuming and irrelevant. A detached tone and some dogmatic abstractions make for tough reading, but Ka's rediscovery of God and poetry in a desolate place makes the novel's sadness profound and moving.
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From Booklist

Sharply departing from the accessibility of his last novel, the intellectual mystery My Name Is Red (2001), acclaimed Turkish author Pamuk delivers a nearly impenetrable political novel. After eight years spent living in exile in Frankfurt, Germany, the poet Ka returns to the isolated town of Kars during a historic blizzard. Cut off from the outside world, the town's ingrown tensions are thrown into sharp relief as Ka investigates the epidemic of suicides occurring among devoutly religious schoolgirls who prefer to take their own lives rather than remove their head scarves. The chaos of a military coup and Ka's sudden, obsessive love for an old, very beautiful friend contribute to the poet's sudden burst of creativity after a years-long bout of writer's block. Pamuk mixes elements of the fable, a heavy dose of metaphysics, and great swathes of artificial, stilted dialogue as he slowly, ever so slowly, parses the differences between the secular and the faithful. Strictly for determined readers with a passion for international literature and a familiarity with Islam. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (August 17, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375406972
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375406973
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.4 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (228 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,432,236 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

321 of 347 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on August 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The rich story-telling tradition of the Middle East enlivens Turkish author Pamuk's novel about the residents of Kars, a town in the remote northeast corner of Turkey, once a crossroads for trade between Turkey, Soviet Georgia, Armenia, and Iran, but now a place of enormous poverty. Ka, a poet with writer's block, arrives in Kars at the beginning of a three-day blizzard, sometime in the early 1990s, to investigate a spate of suicides by young women forbidden to wear headscarves in school, but he is also there hoping to reconnect with his life-long love, Ipek, who is now single.

All the conflicting political and religious movements of the country are exemplified in Kars--socialism and communism, atheism, political secularism, Kurdish nationalism, and the most rapidly growing movement, Islamist fundamentalism, and Ka comes into contact with all of them. As he investigates the girls' suicides and becomes reacquainted with Ipek, he also witnesses the coffeeshop shooting of the Director of Education, the man who has carried out the government's orders to ban the "headscarf girls" from school. His assailant is a young member of the Freedom Fighters for Islamic Justice, a group Ka comes to know. A military coup at the National Theater begins when soldiers burst in, shoot randomly into the audience, kill a number of people, then round up "dangerous" citizens, including some of the people Ka has visited. Ultimately, Ka's life is in danger, and Ipek must choose whether to go with him to Germany or to stay in Kars.

Articulate in its depiction of almost inexplicable contradictions, Snow is not a western novel and does not adhere to western literary conventions of plot or character.
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224 of 253 people found the following review helpful By Charles on November 11, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Reviewers of Orhan Pamuk seem to fall into two categories: those who find his work breathtakingly brilliant; and those who find it distant, overly-intellectualized, and downright dull. As much as I'd like to belong in the first category, there's no denying I'm smack-dab in the second. This, despite the fact that I consider myself a patient reader and have long been fascinated by Pamuk's native Turkey.

The book's central character is a poet named Ka. Its setting is the Turkish frontier town of Kars. What falls throughout the book is snow, which, translated in Turkish, is "kar." Hmm. Let this be your first warning that you are deep in the throes of post-modernist art.

The plot of "Snow" is drawn straight from headlines in Turkey today. Religious young women, pressured by the State to take off their headscarves, are committing suicide. While Pamuk has plenty of value to say about this and other issues which define modern day Turkey -- on the crossroads of East and West -- the problem is how he goes about saying it:

'Does your father have to be out of the hotel for you to get into bed with me naked?' asked Ka.

'Yes. And he hardly ever leaves the hotel. He doesn't care for the icy streets of Kars.'

'All right then, let's not make love now. But let's kiss some more,' said Ka.


Ipek leaned over Ka, who was sitting on the edge of the bed, and they enjoyed a long and sensual kiss.

Hmm. Maybe it's not fair to blame Pamuk since his prose must first be dragged through the filter of translation.
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177 of 204 people found the following review helpful By Susan C. Bentler on September 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"One of the pleasures of writing this novel, was to say to my Turkish readers and to my international audience, openly and a bit provocatively, but honestly, that what they call a terrorist is first of all a human being. Our secularists, who are always relying on the army and who are destroying Turkey's democracy, hated this book because here you have a deliberate attempt by a person who was never religious in his life to understand why someone ends up being what we or the Western world calls an Islamic fundamentalist terrorist."

-Orhan Pamuk

Whether you are new to the writings of Orhan Pamuk or like me, a convert to his work in translation, you will find the book, "Snow," is packed, nay; overflowing with Turkish humanity. In Orhan Pamuk's self-avowed first (and last) political novel, the disaffected and somewhat anesthesitized inhabitants of Kars find their imperfect voice in his newest novel. Through mad-cap theatrical coup and broad, windy statements to an imagined and unhearing "Western Press," the reader is ingeniously treated and sometimes led by the nose through the complexity of an Islamic society desiring access to its past and admittance to the modern world.

Therein lies the rub.

Understanding is everything, although it can't immediately change anything. The readers of "Snow" will find many intricately drawn zany characters, who represent a spectrum of political fundamentalist Islam; adherents, admirers and detractors. All are deliciously served up on an exotic Turkish platter and are no less appealing for the remote locale of Kars.

As a reader, I am consistently amazed by Mr. Pamuk's stellar ability to give authentic, credible voice to a wide array of eccentric characters, each effortlessly recognizable for all their foible.
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