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Comment: withdrawn library with usual marks, noticeable foredge soiling. Jacket very good. 1st printing
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The New Life Hardcover – April 8, 1997


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; First Edition edition (April 8, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374221294
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374221294
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,153,764 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In his native Turkey, author Orhan Pamuk's novel The New Life is a huge hit. Now English-language readers have an opportunity to sample this unusual book for themselves. The New Life begins with the sentence "I read a book one day and my whole life was changed." That book leads the narrator, a young man named Osman, on a wild journey in the company of Janan, a mysterious young woman in search of her lover, Mehmet. He had actually managed to enter--and escape--the world of the book. In the course of their travels, Osman and Janan are involved in a bloody bus wreck from which they emerge with new identities; they meet several "false" Mehmets; Janan mysteriously vanishes; and Osman eventually encounters a family friend who may or may not be the author of the life-changing book and possibly of The New Life itself.

In case you hadn't already guessed, The New Life is strictly postmodernist fare, where plot and character are minimal and time and space tend to bend and warp in unexpected ways. The author's vision is certainly original, his descriptions of violence and Turkish culture particularly strong.

From Booklist

Osman is an ordinary engineering student in Istanbul until he comes across a book that changes his life. A sort of quasimystical tract, it provides a guide to a new life that is so irresistible Osman becomes obsessed by it. Soon he meets up with two more devotees of the book, the beautiful Janan and Mahmet, her boyfriend. When Mahmet suddenly disappears, Janan and Osman, who is now totally in love with Janan, set out to find him. As they head for the provinces, the novel switches gears from the merely mysterious to a sort of Turkish magical realism: the book's author turns out to be the best friend of Osman's father; the couple unearth a CIA-like organization that keeps track of the book and its readers; then they meet up with a Doctor Delicate, who sees the book as a pernicious Western influence. Finally, Osman alone finds Mahmet, bringing the story to a sort of conclusion. Recommended for the reader who wants something truly different. Brian Kenney

More About the Author

Orhan Pamuk, described as 'one of the freshest, most original voices in contemporary fiction' (Independent on Sunday), is the author of many books, including The White Castle, The Black Book and The New Life. In 2003 he won the International IMPAC Award for My Name is Red, and in 2004 Faber published the translation of his novel Snow, which The Times described as 'a novel of profound relevance to the present moment'. His most recent book was Istanbul, described by Jan Morris as 'irresistibly seductive'. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2006. He lives in Istanbul.

Customer Reviews

Other similarities are the lack of a coherent plot and the use of silly and convoluted situations.
bob coyle
Because I was tempted to put the book down every few pages, and like tasting a good wine, I had to ponder about the underlayer meaning of what I had just read.
Az InBetween
The actions in this book are simple but the poetic writing style is full of philosphy that enriches the reader by following Osman's quest.
Glutton for books

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By e. verrillo on January 2, 2007
Format: Paperback
The first sentence of The New Life is: "I read a book one day and my whole life was changed." As the main character reads, he is infused with light, and literally knocked off the path of his life. From that point on, dear Reader, abandon your preconceptions of what you think a novel should be, for The New Life won't conform to them.

The New Life can best be described as a prolonged, complex and highly poetic metaphor. If you try to take the endless journeys, the long rambling philosophical asides, indeed, the characters themselves, at face value you will find yourself frustrated by the obscurities, the meanderings, and the lack of tidy resolutions which Pamuk manages to dish out in heaping portions from the first to the last page.

In one sense this book is a typical "road story" taking us on an interminable bus ride with the protagonist as he searches for the meaning of life, love, and peace (and ultimately death). Osman, our romantic hero, is beset both by the book he reads and by love in equal portions. In fact, the two become so intertwined that it is almost impossible for the reader (or the author) to make a clear distinction between the transformation precipitated by the book, and the similar transformation produced by the honey-haired beauty who leads him on his long journey into ... what?

This is where most readers will be tempted to toss up their hands. What is our hero seeking? What is this New Life which ruins his placid existence? Why does he seek it with such fervor? Why does it lead to conspiracies, counter-conspiracies, assassination? Pamuk doesn't clarify these central questions for us.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Esther Nebenzahl on January 13, 2003
Format: Paperback
When a country confronts radical changes, its cultural manifestations will equally reflect the confusion brought about by these same changes. "The New Life" responds to the dramatic turn around in Turkey's history, its breaking away from traditional culture and codes and the introduction of Western values.
In a narrative which equally breaks away from conventional mode (more to the likes of Borges's labyrinth), in an ultra post-modernistic style, where characters disappear and reappeared with changed identities, in a dreamlike surrealistic setting, where plot is irrelevant, Ohram Pamuk evokes the contemporary dilemma of Turkey and its national identity.
The characters Nahit/Osman/Mehmet/Dr. Fine/Rifki all personify the contradictory facets of nowadays Turkey. Whether they represent fundamentalism, militarism, or westernization, Pamuk satirizes all. Osman finds himself at this cultural crossroad and guided by a book and love, embarks himself in a "Kafkian" journey to find the real meaning of life and what its future might hold in surprise. He painfully realizes that his world is contingent upon misinterpreted signals and indiscriminate habits while real life is located somewhere in another dimension. Is he in fact seeking Turkey's future? He desperately wants to be at the threshold of life and when he is able to reach this stage of transiton he discovers he is both in peace and waging a war, restless and somnolent, in eternity and also in time, sleepwalking and awake.
"I hear the call of silence, the like of which I had never before experienced. Ah, to be neither here nor there! To become someone else and roam the peaceful garden that exists between the two worlds!" It all boils down to an allegorical interpretation of Turkey's present. How will Turkey's "New Life" be like?
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Glutton for books on February 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
I do not read much fiction, but Orhan Pamuk is an author who writes novels with great psychological examinations of life, so that to classify them as fiction does them a great disservice. Like all of Pamuk's novels, identity is a central theme in "The New Life." Turkish life and the change its people experience are so full of vibrance that it constitutes a separate character. Very few nonfiction history, political or economic works do justice to the complex state of Turkish affairs, but one receives a deep understanding of modern Turkey from reading Pamuk's novels; even when they are set in the past.

The novel's central character Osman is on a quest of self-discovery; phyiscally he is searching for a book of answers. Chief among these answers that the book is believed to hold is obtaining happiness, which Osman feels for the first time when he is infatuated with Janan, in the throws of love or obessession. Let the reader decide as it is part of Osman's journey too. Of course it woudl be too neat if Jahan simply returned the infatuation. She is obssessed with another character; but is it the person or his ideas that hold her captive?

The book is less about finding the object than it is about the journey and what articualtes a search for intangible things that every one seeks or expects to find from life, and why they feel bitter disappoitment, when they believe that their lives are void of such things.

The expectations embodied in the novel include universal concepts such as love, happiness, and a sense of belonging to soemthing greater than one's self. Things we are told we will have if we do all that is expected of us, as people. And things that make us feel less full as individuals when whe feel that we lack them.
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