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Istanbul: Memories and the City Paperback – July 11, 2006
This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Bookmarks Magazine
Reminiscent of works by Jorge Luis Borges and Gabriel García Márquez, Pamuks 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 Pamuks memoir concludes with his adolescence, it rings true to the universal coming-of-age experience.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Memories and the City is a string of memoirs, a historiography and art history chronicle that covers subjects ranging in topic from the emotional, linguistic, and even topographical. Pamuk spares no detail in this rich, lush portrait of a city that is nostalgic for the former grandeur of pashas, harems, and sultans--while coping with the despondency that accompanies poverty in all its incomprehensible brutality.
But the poverty of Istanbul is different from that of other cities and locales. Pamuk illustrates that In Istanbul, the citizens revel in their state of hardship. They wear melancholia with honor and pride--that they too suffer, but will overcome. Istanbul's poverty or sense of Hüzün--a Turkish term for a sort of despondency that settles over a location like a blanket of snow. Hüzün is not so much depression or outright dejection as it is a state of being--a collective gloom Istanbul's inhabitants have come to associate with themselves and their city. It is their heart. It is their collective consciousness.
Replete with gorgeous photographs culled from personal family collections and the works of renowned Turkish photojournalist, Ara Güler, Pamuk takes his reader on a locals-only tour of the city of his birth. And rather than boast the former glory of an empire that is no longer, rather than show us the monuments and cultural touchstones that don the touristic Istanbullu skyline, he takes us down back-alleys to the crumbling remnants of days long past. He shows us at once, the embodiment of the bold face of transition and the impending consequences of westernization.
However, Pamuk establishes a position on his city that is far from despair. Like his city, he too revels in the sense of Hüzün. He celebrates the collective melancholy and dolefulness of Istanbullus by reminding us that the true beauty of a location lies not in the glory of its architectural feats, but rather in the exquisite minds and souls of its inhabitants.
Part memoir, part history lesson, Istanbul - Memories and the City is the perfect read for the would-be travelers, the culturally curious, and the arm-chair escapists, hungry to set their sights on landscapes that are simultaneously foreign and yet deeply personal.