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Silent House Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 9, 2012

3.9 out of 5 stars 55 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for Silent House:

"Inspired and impassioned…A microcosm of a country on the verge of a coup…Pamuk has a flattering faith in his reader' intelligence…The book [is] threaded through with ideas of history, religion, memory class and politics. But it never seems didactic because the reader comes to realize that these reflections are aspects of the inner life: plausible components of the characters' psyches. I was glad to be transported to a seaside town in Turkey, to meet this odd family and their neighbors, all of whom seem to be living in several places at once: in the present and the past, in history, in everyday reality and in the simultaneously limitless and constricted worlds of their own minds…The reading experience is so very pleasurable."
            —Francine Prose, New York Times Book Review

“Luminous and stylistically inventive…energetic and exuberant…Silent House is a kind of literary time machine, allowing us to glimpse both the writer and his country at this crucial turning point…the novel brilliantly captures the disorder, nostalgia and hope of a society struggling with violence and self-definition.”
        —Michael David Lukas, San Francisco Chronicle

“Propulsive…in this quiet unassuming way does a wrenching story unfold, until an unexpected and hair-raising turn…the author’s most accessible novel to date…the work of a great engineer.”
            —Marie Arana, Washington Post

 “Gripping family saga…arresting and unforgettable...[Pamuk] speaks with great prescience, subtlety and sophistication. Silent House is both a highly readable fiction and an unsparing portrait of the Turkish intellectual class.”
            —Alev Adil, The Independent (UK)
“Spellbinding…luminous…rich in brooding memories of a bygone era but the experience is elevating rather than oppressive. The events and characters in this novel may belong to a particular region and time, but their angst is universal…That is a measure of the greatness of his craft, something one finds in Anton Chekov.”
            —Shreekant Sambrani, Business Standard (India)

“The beginnings of a great writer… Silent House illuminates the recent historical pressures, and 30 years on, the novel feels doubly prescient… A novelist prescient enough to publish [this] in 1983 proved himself fully deserving of the call from the Swedish Academy in 2006.”
        —Mark Lawson, The Guardian (UK)

“Impressive…It proves once and for all that Pamuk is truly one of the world’s most versatile fiction writers, no matter the language in which he is read…Despite the specificity of the novel’s setting, the characters’ respective struggles are universal; they could be any family, anywhere, at any time.”
            —Jason Diamond, New York Observer
“Pamuk builds a multi-faceted panorama distinguished by his customary intellectual richness and breadth.”
            —Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Orhan Pamuk won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2006. His novel My Name Is Red won the 2003 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. His work has been translated into more than sixty languages. 

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (October 9, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307700283
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307700285
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,078,411 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Martin Zook on October 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Orhan Pamuk's The Silent House is a curious read. For those who've not previously read works of the 2006 Nobel prize winner, this is a good starting point because of the book's accessibility, which can't always be said about Orhan's novels, and because it introduces a wide range of concerns explored in later novels.

For those familiar with his works, Silent House (SH) speaks to other books in Pamuk's body of work, especially Museum of Innocence, My Name is Red, and to a lesser degree Snow.

Plot in SH is deceptively simple. A trio of grandchildren are visiting their curmudgeonly grandmother. That's it. Much of the action is repetitive: the granny (Fatma, the name of Muhammad's daughter) retires to her den to denounce the world and all who live in it, while she is waited on pretty much hand and foot by a dwarf who is the bastard son of her deceased husband. One of the grandchildren goes to the beach every morning and reads a lot. The eldest grandchild is an alcoholic historian, not unlike his father and his father's father (see the pattern?), and a teenage grandchild, who like his cohorts, must remain in perpetual motion, physically, emotionally, and intellectually. Underlying the family circle is that of the half family consisting of two bastards (Recep the dwarf and Ismail) by Fatma's husband Selahattin, and the son Hasan of the bastard Ismail.

Here it might be worth noting that while SH was originally published in Turkish in 1983, I think a strong argument can be made for parallels between Pamuk's Hasan, who is marginalized by a lack of prospects in Turkish society as he comes under the influence of right-wing extremists and Mohamed Atta's marginalization in Egyption society, which opened the door for falling under the influence of al Qaeda and leading the 9.
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Format: Hardcover
In 1980 acrimonious nonagenarian widow Fatma Darvinoglu waits for the annual summer visit of her adult grandchildren when they invade her dilapidated home in Cennethisar near Istanbul. She has lived in exile there since she married her foolish late husband Selahattin when she was a teen as Fatma has observed the fishing village turning into a posh resort town. His obsession with writing the definitive encyclopedia proving God is a supernatural myth while science only matters alienated the country's leadership seven decades ago.

Adding to her rage towards the idiot she married, he had affairs proven by her servants Recep the dwarf and his crippled brother Ismail; while the latter's son Hasan belongs to a nationalist gang of bullies. The only thing Selahattin did right was to drink himself to death; as did their son Dogan. Of the grandchildren, Faruk has failed as a historian but appears to be a chip off the male blocks as he heads towards drinking to death; Nilgun the only female considers joining the Communist Party; and the youngest adolescent Metin angrily envies his wealthy peers who can afford endless alcohol and drugs.

This is a mesmerizing look at the conflict between modernization (west) and tradition (east) in identifying what Turkey was, is and will be. The eight family members are different personalities but share in common for the most part a depressed outlook overwhelmed by the burden of life yet do so diversely so that the reader obtains a sort of 360 degree glimpse of a country pulled in opposite directions. Fans will appreciate this engaging but dark look at Turkey during a critical period.

Harriet Klausner
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Format: Hardcover
SILENT HOUSE vividly portrays the turmoil in Turkey during the time immediately prior to the government coup d'état of 1980. The author, then a brilliant young writer who will go on to win a Nobel Prize in literature in another 20 years, creates a troubled snapshot-in-time of an emerging nation grappling with the effects of westernization on an ancient culture.

His cast of characters features a 90-year old matriarch, Fatma, whose blurred and romantic memories date back to the caliphs and courts at the turn of the 20th century. She is attended by Recep, a middle-aged dwarf who is the bastard son of her late husband, a doctor, who was an historical scholar long since dead. Her husband and their late son spent their lives attempting to create an encyclopedia of knowledge of civilization in the new westernized Turkish language created when Ataturk overthrew the caliphs after World War I. Their grandchildren, both legitimate and illegitimate, will become reacquainted as the young people come to stay during the summer of 1979 at the crumbling house by a seaside resort city outside Istanbul.

The eldest grandson, Faruk, appears to be headed along the same self-destructive path of trying to make sense of Turkey's complicated history. The younger grandchildren, in their teens and early 20s, seem bored yet entertained by the sybaritic lifestyles that separate them from their more traditional elders. Some have dreams of traveling to America for an education, while others are biding their time in school and living only in the present. The news of growing urban riots trickles down via newspapers but seems to have little effect on the bored young Turks partying in the resort town.
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