Monday, August 24, 2009

The Snow, The Conflict, The Love - Orhan's Pamuk novel

After reading „Istanbul—Memories and the City” by Orhan Pamuk (see my review) I knew that his Snow would be a great reading.

But the impression I had greatly outgrown my expectations. The book's plot is set in the eastern, border city of Kars (BTW, Kar means Snow in Turkish), the city that bears the memories of its Russian, Georgian and Armenian past. A poet, named Ka, returns to Kars after long life in Istanbul and in Germany. He meets here his love, witnesses a political/religious murder, faces the mysterious young women suicides and gets involved in the conflict - which is no less than the main Turkish conflict between secularism and violent religious extremism - on a microscale. When it comes to this very conflict, still so important in Turkey and other Islamic countries - Pamuk is truly even-handed. He spurns the murderous nature of some of Islamists, while he condemns despicable and completely unjustified action of Turkish army that led to a military coup in the city.

In beautiful narration, Pamuk uncovers the motifs of both sides, contemplates the deep philosophical questions, and shows how human emotions of love, hatred and jealousy cast shadow on the historical events.

The thread of love between the main protagonist and beautiful, yet troubled woman is described with such truth and tenderness, without false pretence of romantic innocence - that I must say it was one of most beautiful yet non-naive love story I ever read.

The language of Snow is simple but beautiful; the poetry is in flow of thought rather than in words and sentences.

Last but not least - Pamuk is another great story teller - at some moment of the book, about 2/3 of it, we are suddenly spoiled ... and exposed to the tragic finale of the plot. I was almost sure the book ends just then, or it will no longer be worth reading. However, at this moment the story starts to be even more intriguing, and the fact the reader knows the end - not only does not spoil the reading - but makes it even more fascinating...


  1. This sounds amazing and well worth reading - do you recommend the audio book?
    Thanks for a great review!

  2. Certainly. And I must add, that the Audio rendition of "Snow" was another great thing !
    John Lee is the narrator. I guess this is this John Lee :-).