cover image Other Colors: Essays and a Story

Other Colors: Essays and a Story

Orhan Pamuk. Knopf Publishing Group, $27.95 (433pp) ISBN 978-0-307-26675-0

Though the latest book from Nobel Prize-winning Pamuk (Istanbul, Snow) is a standard late-career essay collection, it makes clear the reasons behind the Turkish author's acclaim. Eschewing flash and flourish, Pamuk's style is plain, simple and persuasive-but therein lies its subtle power, well represented over more than 75 pieces divided into sections like ""Living and Worrying"" and ""Politics, Europe, and Other Problems of Being Oneself."" Self-reflection and cultural evolution emerge often as twin themes, as in his consideration of the Thousand and One Nights: ""In those days, young Turks like me who considered themselves modern viewed the classics of eastern literature as one might a dark and impenetrable forest."" These concerns lead naturally to political considerations, such as his conclusion that ""the lies about the war in Iraq and... secret CIA prisons have so damaged the West's credibility in Turkey... it is more and more difficult for people like me to make the case for true western democracy in my part of the world."" There's humor as well; in ""Giving Up Smoking,"" a smoking cab driver begs Pamuk's pardon: ""He was opening the window. 'No,' I said, 'keep it closed. I've given up smoking.'"" Also included are musings on his own books and a short story, ""To Look Out the Window."" Disarmingly honest, Pamuk refuses to give in to melodrama or stylistic quirks, giving his feeling and frustration crystalline clarity and lasting weight.