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My Name Is Red Paperback – August 27, 2002
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--Jonathan Levi, Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Straddling the Dardanelles sits the city of Istanbul . . . and in that city sits Orhan Pamuk, chronicler of its consciousness . . . His novel's subject is the difference in perceptions between East and West . . . [and] a mysterious killer... driven by mad theology. . .Pamuk is getting at a subject that has compelled modern thinkers from Heidegger to Derrida . . . My Name is Red is a meditation on authenticity and originality . . . An ambitious work on so many levels at once."
--Melvin Jules Bukiet, Chicago Tribune
"Most enchanting . . . Playful, intellectually challenging, with an engaging love story and a full canvas of memorable characters, My Name is Red is a novel many, many people will enjoy."
--David Walton, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Intensely exhilarating . . . Arresting and provocative . . . To say that Orhan Pamuk's new novel, My Name is Red, is a murder mystery is like saying that Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov is a murder mystery: it is true, but the work so richly transcends the conventional limitations of genre as to make the definition seem almost irrelevant. . . . The techniques of classical Islamic literature are used to anchor the book within a tradition of local narrative, but they can also be used with a wonderfully witty and distancing lightness of touch . . . All the exuberance and richly descriptive detail of a nineteenth-century European novel . . . The technique of Pamuk's novel proclaims that he himself is a magnificently accomplished hybrid artist, able to take from Eastern and Western traditions with equal ease and flair . . . Formally brilliant, witty, and about serious matters . . . It conveys in a wholly convincing manner the emotional, cerebral, and physical texture of daily life, and it does so with great compassion, generosity, and humanity . . . An extraordinary achievement."
--Dick Davis, Times Literary Supplement, UK
"My Name is Red is a fabulously rich novel, highly compelling . . . This pivotal
book, which absorbed Pamuk through the 1990s, could conclusively establish him as one of the world's finest living writers."
--Guy Mannes-Abbott, The Independent, UK
"A murder mystery set in sixteenth-century Istanbul [that] uses the art of miniature illumination, much as Mann's 'Doctor Faustus' did music, to explore a nation's soul. . . . Erdag Goknar deserves praise for the cool, smooth English in which he has rendered Pamuk's finespun sentences, passionate art appreciations, sly pedantic debates, [and] eerie urban scenes."
--John Updike, The New Yorker
"Pamuk is a novelist and a great one...My Name is Red is by far the grandest and most astonishing contest in his internal East-West war...It is chock-full of sublimity and sin...The story is told by each of a dozen characters, and now and then by a dog, a tree, a gold coin, several querulous corpses and the color crimson ('My Name is Red')...[Readers will] be lofted by the paradoxical lightness and gaiety of the writing, by the wonderfully winding talk perpetually about to turn a corner, and by the stubborn humanity in the characters' maneuvers to survive. It is a humanity whose lies and silences emerge as endearing and oddly bracing individual truths."
--Richard Eder, New York Times Book Review
"The interweaving of human and philosophical intrigue is very much as I remember it in The Name of the Rose, as is the slow, dense beginning and the relentless gathering of pace . . . But, in my view, his book is by far the better of the two. I would go so far as to say that Pamuk achieves the very thing his book implies is impossible . . . More than any other book I can think of, it captures not just Istanbul's past and present contradictions, but also its terrible, timeless beauty. It's almost perfect, in other words. All it needs is the Nobel Prize."
--Maureen Freely, New Statesman, UK
"A perfect example of Pamuk's method as a novelist, which is to combine literary trickery with page-turning readability . . . As a meditation on art, in particular, My Name is Red is exquisitely subtle, demanding and repaying the closest attention . . We in the West can only feel grateful that such a novelist as Pamuk exists, to act as a bridge between our culture and that of a heritage quite as rich as our own."
--Tom Holland, Daily Telegraph, UK
"Readers . . . will find themselves lured into a richly described and remarkable world . . . Reading the novel is like being in a magically exotic dream . . .Splendidly enjoyable and rewarding . . . A book in which you can thoroughly immerse yourself."
--Allan Massie, The Scotsman, UK
"A wonderful novel, dreamy, passionate and august, exotic in the most original and exciting way. Orhan Pamuk is indisputably a major novelist."
--Philip Hensher, The Spectator, UK
"[In this] magnificent new novel... Pamuk takes the reader into the strange and beautiful world of Islamic art,in which Western notions no longer make sense .... In this world of forgeries, where some might be in danger of losing their faith in literature, Pamuk is the real thing, and this book might well be one of the few recent works of fiction that will be remembered at the end of this century."
--Avkar Altinel, The Observer, UK
From the Inside Flap
The Sultan has commissioned a cadre of the most acclaimed artists in the land to create a great book celebrating the glories of his realm. Their task: to illuminate the work in the European style. But because figurative art can be deemed an affront to Islam, this commission is a dangerous proposition indeed. The ruling elite therefore mustn?t know the full scope or nature of the project, and panic erupts when one of the chosen miniaturists disappears. The only clue to the mystery?or crime? ?lies in the half-finished illuminations themselves. Part fantasy and part philosophical puzzle, My Name is Red is a kaleidoscopic journey to the intersection of art, religion, love, sex and power.
Translated from the Turkish by Erda M Göknar
- Publisher : Vintage; Reprint edition (August 27, 2002)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 432 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0375706852
- ISBN-13 : 978-0375706851
- Item Weight : 11 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.2 x 0.88 x 7.98 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #54,161 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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Though the story is ostensibly a mystery, the real subject of the book is early modern Istanbul-its government, culture and people. These are so ingeniously depicted that I'm surprised the book hasn't become celebrated as a work which lets a reader glimpse into a culture foreign to most contemporary Westerners.
The theme of Turkey's divide between East and West, as exemplified in the work of figurative manuscripts, is best read for oneself rather than summarized. Other themes such as the nature of art itself, the relationship between art and Islam and the relationships between master and pupil are strewn throughout the work. All the while Pamuk tells such a compelling story that the narrative could have been published without this philosophical depth.
There is a lot more that could be said about this novel: its serious themes right along playful asides that keep the novel from being too ponderous, the surprisingly realistic characters in a work of historical fiction (although the artists sometimes seem superhuman-Pamuk is an artist himself after all), the honest depiction of both the glories and depravities of Ottoman culture but, again, its best to discover these on your own than have someone provide spoilers of Pamuk's masterpiece.
In brief, if you are looking for literary fiction which also depicts a largely unknown culture (except to Turks) you could hardly find a better choice. If you are looking for an interesting mystery, you will find it but hopefully you will also take in this fascinating depiction of Ottoman culture.
"Yes, these are our hidden traces, not those identical horses all in a row. When a painter renders the fury and speed of a horse, he doesn't paint his own fury and speed; by trying to make the perfect horse, he reveals his love for the richness of this world and its creator, displaying the colors of a passion for life -- only that and nothing more."
The Ottoman artists in this novel are miniaturists who decorate books to exalt the glory of the sultan. They are working in a style that is devoid of perspective and this puts their work at a comfortable distance from realism and the murky gray area between art and blasphemy. Their world is turned upside down by the radical trend towards realism in art that comes by way of Venice. At what point do these ideas cross from being aesthetically pleasing to being downright dangerous?
This book is about 14th century art in Istanbul. It is a murder mystery that blends the life stories of miniaturist … artist that created the beautiful artwork and gold leaf edging in books of that era. Today’s miniaturist is better known as an illustrator of books. The author takes a unique approach in beginning a chapter with a title “I am”. Then each chapter is told in the voice of the name of what would follow “I am”; a first person story told by many different first persons. The name is not necessarily a person. It could be an object like a coin that would then set the setting for the commerce that crosses both Venetian or Ottoman, Christian or Muslim, of that era. There are love dramas, conspiracies, Greek tragedies, (so apropos a term for a setting in Istanbul), and a lot of art history in novel form. Any reader would be intrigued enough to start fact checking and eventually planning a trip to Istanbul to discover firsthand the art of an era so over looked by us Westerners.
Bikaner Miniature Painting You'll have to go to my blog cigarroomofbooks to see the picture. Apparently it would post here.
The murder and conspiracy spins around a real plot on a person’s conceit. Imagine a person of wealth having his portrait painted and hung on the walls of his palazzo. Take it a step further and imagine a famous scene, say a battle, and that a Doge would have himself painted in to the scene, though having not been there. It would be a false rendering of the story. And then imagine the concern of the miniaturists who see the betrayal of truth and Allah himself. Remember in the 1500’s there were no other material media for stories to get told in color. You then begin to appreciate how grave the crime might be. Of course Hollywood does this all the time, so one must question the sliding scale of the virtue of man. And then weigh in on the moral consequences in what may be a justified murder. Or was it just for the money after all?
As the murder plot thickens, the reader is rendered as the sleuth to figure out who the murderer is. The information is presented in first person of the prime character of any chapter. And the detectives are describing drawing styles of art that could be linked to one miniaturist or another. The reader cannot help but learn to become an art critic. The author, like in the book, sneaks up on you with art education while distracting you with a multi faced plot.
The 14th century Muslim art critic’s primary objection was in defense of Allah. It was not the goal to paint a scene objectively, but rather the painting should be rendered as though seen through the eyes of Allah. As the plot unfolds the objection unravels. To determine the author you had to examine all the artists for style. Style was at that time in the Ottoman Empire dictated by the masters of any given schools. Somehow a master artist would at the end of his career go blind from so much dedication to Allah’s work and he could still somehow be able to instruct his students. It was an achievement to go blind. Somehow the actors in the drama fail to see that Allah is really the master artist forcing his style on his students.
The real tragedy is the suspect artists feud with each other as they witness art from the Venetians who capture scenes objectively. Their feud is fueled with the competition of who would succeed their murdered master. Poor Black who is strapped with the job to figure out who done it so that he may earn the love and hand of the dead master’s daughter, finds himself being convinced, one by one by the arguments of each suspect. Every argument brings two themes. Fist is the sacrilege of their brethren actually painting with their own style. And second is that unique style is exactly evidence found in the murder scene painting.
The book is clearly poetry in prose. It is word art. It is a Walt Whitman rant style of poetry. The only thing missing is the artwork.
Top reviews from other countries
Unlike a couple of other reviewers, I enjoyed the different 'voices' used to drive the story along. The mystery and the love story served well to keep me reading to the end and the ending was very satisfying.
As a woman, It led me to reflect that it is only very recently that women have lost their second class status in the West. In the Islamic world at different times and places - like 16th century Istanbul - the societal structures seem to have forced both men and women to behave rather strangely, to modern Western eyes.