ISTANBUL: Memories and the City

Orhan Pamuk, Author, Maureen Freely, Translator , trans. from the Turkish by Maureen Freely. Knopf $26.95 (400p) ISBN 978-1-4000-4095-7

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)

Reviewed on: 04/18/2005
Release date: 06/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 547 pages - 978-2-07-035860-1
Open Ebook - 266 pages - 978-0-307-38648-9
Paperback - 350 pages - 978-0-571-21833-2
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-1-4000-3388-1
Hardcover - 348 pages - 978-0-571-21832-5
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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