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.
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.