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Snow Paperback – July 19, 2005

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 425 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (July 19, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375706860
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375706868
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (218 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,416 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

I think, for me, the main problem is character development.
constant reader
I attempted to read this book and stopped half way because it was just so slow!
I found Pamuk's writing style to be poetic, lyrical, and challenging.
Glenn Miller

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

320 of 345 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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223 of 251 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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48 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Rick Woodward on October 16, 2006
Format: Paperback
Pamuk's Nobel Prize caught me a little more than halfway through this book. I find it rather disappointing that the Nobel Committee picked Pamuk over a much more deserving Turkish novelist, Yashar KemalMemed, My HawkThe Wind from the Plain (Wind from the Plain Trilogy). Even by the political criteria that often seem to be more important to the Nobel Committee than literary criteria, Kemal trumps Pamuk: instead of merely talking about historically oppressed peoples like the Kurds and Armenians, Kemal is himself a Kurd, and rather than merely having had charges brought against him as a political dissident, Kemal has actually been to prison. But much more importantly, Kemal is a much finer writer.
So what about the book itself? It has numerous flaws, ranging from the inclusion of the very unconvincing love story of the protagonist to the credibility-straining relationship between Blue and Kadife (as if Muslim fundamentalists would engage in the decadent Western practice of taking - or, even more incredibly, consenting to become - a mistress). Moreover, the problems with the language that some reviewers refer to are not the translator's fault. Pamuk's Turkish prose is anything but elegant. While my Turkish is admittedly at the beginner-to-intermediate level at best, when I tortured myself by reading the first few pages of Pamuk's book "Istanbul" in the original, showing particularly confusing passages to my Turkish wife, she confirmed my suspicion that his sentences are often convoluted. There are authors, like William Faulkner, who are able to manage long and complicated sentences well.
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