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Istanbul: Memories and the City Paperback – July 11, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
In Pamuk's view, the Ottoman past is a foreign country for the Turks. The present is the Turkish Republic, Atatürk's secular, Western-oriented, homogenizing nation state now centered in Ankara, an outgrown Anatolian village. Pamuk spends much of the book understandably mourning the replacement of the Empire with the nondescript country that is Turkey now. Sometimes his disappointed tone can be wearing, but Pamuk's honesty is bracing. Politically and economically, Istanbul is no longer a city of consequence, let alone a world capital. It is an insular little place sinking in its own ruins, "so poor and confused that it can never again dream of rising to its former heights of wealth, power and culture".Read more ›
Yet the book is extremely wonderful, especially when Pamuk talks about the experiences and paintings of the Western wanderers, who came to the city in times of the Ottomans. Because Istanbul lacks recources that tells us about his past, seeing the city in the old times and feeling that lost dignity was beautiful.
I also believe that reading this books helps a lot when understanding other books of Pamuk. His childhood and his memories tells us a lot abour the characters in books like Kar ( Snow ) or The New Life.
Today, Istanbul has a bustling population of about 12 million people where the non-Muslim population can hardly reach 100 thousand in total. Some churches and synagogues are closed most of the time because of lack of attendance and funds. Pera (or Beyoglu) is no longer a cosmopolitan community despite its long surviving name. The city has a much different, lackluster character now. It looks tired, burdened by heavy traffic, crowded streets and dense housing.
When Orhan Pamuk reflects on his life in Istanbul, he cannot help feeling melancholic about it because the city has now been inundated by an influx of conservative migrants from rural Turkey. While walking around in working-class districts similar to Fatih or Carsamba, a secular Istanbullu (like Pamuk himself) would indeed feel depressed. Clad in clothes compliant with Islamic values, overpowering number of bearded men and headscarved women would contrast very poorly to the secular images of the past.
For me, this book is not as simple as it appears at first glance.Read more ›
"Istanbul: Memories and the City" has many tender accounts of the author's childhood and family life along with insightful musings on the character of Istanbul and its denizens, the Istanbullis. Certainly, the book's central theme is an exploration of how relationship and birthplace make us what we are. As Mr. Pamuk makes plain, (and lucky for us) he was born in no ordinary city. In addition, the book harkens directly to the zany, dream-afflicted characters found abundantly in Mr. Pamuk's work, which the memoir makes amply clear, are so much in their parts . . . like unto himself.
Once again, Pamuk has us pondering the structure and nuance of Identity, this time as a grand idea explored through the medium of childhood and birthplace. The sensitive candor with which Mr. Pamuk describes his background and relationship to the City is quite touching. The chief literary pleasure of the book has to be the chapter describing "Huzun" (which may be an aging sister to notions of "Kismet"). "Huzun," according to Pamuk, is a collective melancholy consisting of, in differing degree; longing, nostalgia and unrequited love. Mr.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I read this just before a trip to Istanbul, along with Orhan Pamuk's "A Strangeness in My Mind"--loved them both and felt that they enriched my travel experience.Published 4 months ago by Linda P
Orhan Pahmuk's "Istanbul" is a very personal set of reflections of life in this great city. Pahmuk weaves two strands together in his narrative, firstly his own coming of... Read morePublished 5 months ago by keetmom
The author recollects his growing up memories of one of the world's most historic cities, and views his surroundings as an insider. His musings are well written, and insightful.Published 5 months ago by Flocan
If you want to understand Turkish culture explained for s Westerner - read this bookPublished 5 months ago by Donald R. Hicks
This is my first Orhan Pamuk book; I am better with nonfiction than fiction. The book is ostensibly about the history of Istanbul, of which I am pretty familiar. Read morePublished 6 months ago by JustinHoca