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The Black Book Paperback – July 11, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Robert E. Brown, Onondaga Cty. P.L., Syracuse, N.Y.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
The surface plot involves Galip's search for his missing wife and her half-brother Jelal, a famous Turkish columnist. But the deeper meaning of the story concerns the fact that every story has deeper meanings. As Galip's hunt progresses, the chaos of modern Istanbul promises to organize itself into the key to unlocking a larger mystery whose solution would make every detail of life carry meaning, turning the world itself into literature. As far as I can make out, for Pamuk this literary apocalypse would be equivalent to the Messiah's return and to each of us being reborn at last as ourselves, instead of living as hopeless imitations of our heroes from novels and movies.
Just as Galip discovers that Jelal, his own hero, cribbed his columns from older tales, Pamuk's readers gradually realize that Galip's story is a serpentine riff on the Islamic classics, as his search for Jelal and Ruya comes to parallel the Sufi quest for union with God. The Seeker becomes the Sought, Galip becomes Jelal, the reader becomes the author. The burden of postmodernity, Pamuk seems to say, is to realize that we are author, Messiah and reader rolled up in one, with the world as our text to fashion meanings for.
My one criticism is that Pamuk's tale feels a little too familiar, built around themes like the flux of identity, the absence of fixed meanings, the illusion of originality and the self-referential nature of literature that have already been ridden pretty hard by writers from Borges to Eco.Read more ›
One day, Galip discovers that his wife, Ruya, is missing. He immediately connects this with the disappearance of his older cousin, Jelal Bey, a nationally renowned columnist. Galip decides to look for Ruya and Jelal, keeping their disappearance from family and friends. He sleeplessly wanders around Istanbul, collecting clues and encountering people, getting deep into Jelal's life and discovering many of his secrets.
The above paragraph summarizes pretty much the whole plot - there is not much more happening. The ending and solution of the mystery of the disappearance is even quite disappointing... However, what is interesting in this clearly post-modernist book is not the plot, but the form. The chapters interchange between reporting Galip's search for Ruya and Jelal, and Jelal's newspaper columns. The "column" chapters are complete stories, covering subjects as diverse, as events in Turkish history, lives of ordinary (shopkeeper, mannequin maker) and famous (poet Rumi, who reappears in many places throughout the book) people, personal observations, secret organizations, plots and premonitions, and subjects as hot as Turkey's relations with Europe and national identity. The "story within a story" scheme is applied successfully (or even a bit overdone, since the side stories are in effect much more interesting than the main plot), making the association with Shecherezada and the Tales of Thousand and One Night obvious.
I liked the images of Istanbul a lot, I could really see the city before my eyes.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I found this novel incredibly hard work - after the absolute delight of A Strangeness in my Mind I had high hopes, but found much of this one impenetrable.Published 2 months ago by Gazza
Unless you are obsessively interested in the streets of and objects in Istanbul, this book is a total waste of time. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Brian D. Hogan
Getting immersed in this delicious book was something like getting lost in the wonderful foreignness of a medieval land. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Robyn
While many others have enjoyed this book (and this author) I struggled keeping an interest in the narrative and eventually gave up somewhere around chapter 8. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Amazon Customer
Orhan pamuk does have an inferiority complex against Dostoyevsky.
I hate his way of trying to challenge him in his prose. Read more