The Museum of Innocence

Orhan Pamuk, Author, Maureen Freely, Translator , trans. from the Turkish by Maureen Freely. Knopf $26.95 (536p) ISBN 978-0-307-26676-7

Nobel laureate Pamuk's latest is a soaring, detailed and laborious mausoleum of love. During Istanbul's tumultuous 1970s, Kemal Bey, 30-year-old son of an upper-class family, walks readers through a lengthy catalogue of trivial objects, which, though seeming mundane, hold memories of his life's most intimate, irretrievable moments. The main focus of Kemal's peculiar collection of earrings, ticket stubs and drinking glasses is beloved Füsun, his onetime paramour and longtime unrequited love. An 18-year-old virginal beauty, modest shopgirl and “poor distant relation,” Füsun enters Kemal's successful life just as he is engaged to Sibel, a “very special, very charming, very lovely girl.” Though levelheaded Sibel provides Kemal compassionate relief from their social strata's rising tensions, it is the fleeting moments with fiery, childlike Füsun that grant conflicted Kemal his “deepest peace.” The poignant truth behind Kemal's obsession is that his “museum” provides a closeness with Füsun he'll never regain. Though its incantatory middle suffers from too many indistinguishable quotidian encounters, this is a masterful work. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 09/14/2009
Release date: 10/01/2009
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Compact Disc - 978-0-7393-6926-5
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