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Snow by Orhan Pamuk

Snow (2002)

by Orhan Pamuk

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,9301351,077 (3.56)1 / 399
  1. 30
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    Papa Sartre: A Modern Arabic Novel (Modern Arabic Literature) by Ali Bader (Cecilturtle)
  4. 00
    Blood Tie by Mary Lee Settle (FranklyMyDarling)
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    The People's Act of Love by James Meek (IamAleem)

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English (112)  Dutch (5)  German (5)  French (3)  Italian (2)  Turkish (2)  Swedish (1)  Norwegian (1)  Danish (1)  Hebrew (1)  Polish (1)  All languages (134)
Showing 1-5 of 112 (next | show all)
A very complex novel, with many layers, about the pain an exhiliration of love, a small town torn by religious and political divide, its proventiality and pride, its being caught between east and west; police brutality, fear, theater, head scarves, suicide, innocence and corruption. Mesmerizing, rich in detail, empathy and close observation of humans, their beliefs, their gestures. All the while the snow keeps falling, enveloping the town of Ka, the tragedy and the mystery in poetic magic.

Pamuk’s writing evokes Dostoyevsky in its dialogs and Tolstoy in its observation of people; Thomas Mann’s description of places; Garcia Marquez’s magical realism in the relationships of people in the town. An extremely gifted writer, a modern classicist, who brings back the best traditions of the old masters yet makes it his own. ( )
  Gezemice | Oct 29, 2018 |
I've got to stop picking up award-winning books, because I am so often disappointed by them. I read Snow for a book club. I might not have finished it otherwise.

It starts off wonderfully. A poet, Ka, returns to his childhood city in Turkey to investigate the suicides of veiled girls. The descriptions are enchanting; the language itself is beautiful. Most of the story is told in third person, with occasional reference to a narrative "I" who knows Ka, but remains an enigma himself. But as I read on, very little actually happened. The prose that I'd initially admired weighed down what little story there was, until I felt that I was wading through the novel, trying to reach the far cover.

Although it will potentially lead to an interesting discussion tonight, I can't say that I liked it nor that the ending made it worth pushing through. The insertion of the 'author' himself as the first person narrator, which at first I found charming, lead to the destruction of any suspense about the ultimate outcome of the story at about half-way through the book. Unfortunately, the main character, Ka, is not sufficiently engaging for me to care about how the conclusion came about after the outcome itself was revealed. Also, it was a very internal book - very little action actually occurs; instead, the focus is on how the character thinks and re-thinks, feels and rationalizes and then feels differently, and honestly, I could do without that much internal monologue, ever. But especially because the constant reversals in what Ka feels, thinks, and believes, ultimately become a touch melodramatic.

But what do I know, I'm a Westerner. (Actually, that was one of the few interesting points made right at the end: that it is impossible for Europeans or Westerners to understand the people of Kars. We may think we do, we may believe we sympathize, but as outsiders we can't really know their hearts. It is perhaps a narrow lesson for such a long book.)

Snow gave some interesting jumping-off points for discussion, but I can't honestly recommend it to anyone I know. ( )
  akaGingerK | Sep 30, 2018 |
Orhan Pamuk's Snow falls into a weird, middle-ground territory for me. It's a well-crafted tale, rich with context and layers of meaning. But I didn't actually enjoy reading it all that much. From a third-person narrator point of view (we'll get to that later), Snow tells the story of Ka, a Turkish poet who has spent much of his adult life in political exile in Germany, newly returned to his home country for his mother's funeral. When he hears from an acquaintance that a beautiful former college classmate, Ipek, is freshly divorced, living in a border town called Kars, he finds himself a pretext to visit there to see her. The pretext is that there's been a recent wave of suicides among devout Muslim young women, who have been forbidden by government policy to wear their headscarves, and he's there to investigate.

The snow is already falling thickly when Ka arrives in Kars, and it ends up closing off the community over one long, turbulent weekend in which there are assassinations, coups, and police brutality. There are several storylines, all interwoven tightly: the community debate over headscarves, Ka's courtship of Ipek, Ka's suddenly rediscovered inspiration to write poetry, Ipek's relationship with her sister Kadife, both of their ties to a wanted terrorist, the poverty and desperation of the men in Kars, the hope and idealism of the boys at the Muslim high school. The theme of the tension between the West/secularism and the East/religion is pervasive, coloring all of the events of the novel.

Which turns out to be a story within a story, as we find out that the tale of Ka's time in Kars is being told by his friend "Orhan", based on Ka's own written recollections. It's a little bothersome that although the conceit is that the story is being told by a third party, the narrator seems omniscient more often than not, but it's not a dealbreaker. What is more bothersome is that there is none of the characters is particularly well-developed, or to me, identifiable. Ipek is the embodiment of the virgin/whore dichitomy, either idealized or compared to a porn star. The terrorist, Blue, is constantly described as compelling without much in the story to make the reader understand why. Even Ka, though he is the center of the narrative, remains at a frustrating remove. Like Turkey itself, he's neither completely Eastern nor completely Western and vacillates between the two. He doesn't know his own mind, and it makes him hard to get a hold of as a character.

But the writing and structure is lovely. It's a little snowglobe of a story, and effectively creates the air of emotional claustrophobia that anyone who's been stranded (by snow or flooding or ice) for a few days can understand. I'm not sure that the third-party narrator is as effective a device as it could be, but I got a wry, frustrated smile out of plot machinations that mean that we never actually get to read one of Ka's inspired poems...it lets us just imagine how great the poems must have been without putting Pamuk under pressure to write something magnificent. This was a book club selection, and proved divisive for the most part: there were several people who loved it and just as many who completely hated it, with only very few (like me) falling in between. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it based on my own experience of it, but maybe you'll completely love it like some of my book club friends? ( )
  500books | May 22, 2018 |
This book read like heavy Russian lit, which is not my first choice. Things I appreciated--being swept into another world. Authors should be able to make you believe their worlds, and I believed this one enough to want to go back to visit every night. The characters were imperfectly real, really imperfect--I think even more so if I knew that part of Turkey better. Also, it seems that Pamuk is using the sisters as a metaphor for the country of Turkey--desirable, irresistible, unattainable, inexplicable, yet somehow within reach and even abused and used by various warring factions as represented by the various men and their relationships to them in the book. But, yes, like others, I did wish to see the poems. I didn't find the snowflake metaphor/structure to be contrived. The name of the book is SNOW. I thought his thoughts on the formation of the snowflake and its brief, unique but also universal being were pretty dead on. If anyone presumes to think that at the core, human existence is much more, then perhaps this isn't the novel for her. ( )
  MsKathleen | Jan 29, 2018 |
It’s nice to be European. There is currently no better place to live on the planet. Ireland found wealth and individual freedom by joining Europe. As Europe expands, I’ve been a supporter, glad to give other nations the same chance we had. However, when Turkey joined the queue, I hesitated; partly because I think Europe is growing too fast and showing growing pains; but mainly because I feared Turkey shows none of the characteristics I think it needs to be European. After reading this fantastic book, I haven’t changed my mind.

Ka is an exiled poet with writer’s block. An intelligent, sensitive and lonely man, he is no hero or danger to the regime and his exile even looks like the result of a misunderstanding. On a return visit to Turkey, he refinds his muse and the poetry begins to flow. A minor local insurgency erupts and the various powers and influences all come to regard him as a pawn in their ambitions. Ka is no hero and though principled he is full of complexes and lies to all around him. His only real concern is finding happiness which he feels has eluded him all his life. The result is a deeply poetic and intelligent novel which explores political and religious questions in modern Turkey. The cast includes lovely characters including an insurgent actor, his adoring complicit belly-dancer wife, a very pliable newspaper editor, a peaceful islamic radical, the beautiful woman who is the object of Ka’s amorous attentions and her veiled sister.

Trying to pin down just what makes me uncomfortable about Turkey, I’ve concluded it’s not Islam. Most of the wonderful characters in this book are worth sharing Europe with. Orhan Pamuk presents all their positions in what sounds to me a balanced way and they all have merit. Naturally, as a westerner, I’m not comfortable with Islamic notions or freedom or individuality, but I don’t think that this is what has convinced me that Europe is not ready for Turkey. I think what turned me against Turkey was the police; the surveillance; the torture; all carried out at the behest of the State. Frequent comparisons with Iran also disturbed me. When Turkey is ready to resolve differences between its very different peoples in a tolerant European way, it will be ready for Europe. Before that, Europe would only be importing tensions that could spread like a virus.

Indeed, Pamuk himself has been on the receiving end of state oppression and a pawn in their European membership ambitions. He was charged with insulting Turkishness, giving rise to an international outcry. The charges were dropped on a technicality when the EU began reviewing the Turkish legal system.

Orhan Pamuk received the 2006 Nobel Prize for Literature. ( )
2 vote tchelyzt | Jul 15, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 112 (next | show all)
This seventh novel from the Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk is not only an engrossing feat of tale-spinning, but essential reading for our times.

» Add other authors (95 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Pamuk, Orhanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Anna PolatTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bertolini, MartaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carpintero Ortega, RafaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Citak, ManuelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dorleijn, MargreetTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Freely, MaureenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gall, JohnCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gezgin, ŞemsaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heijden, Hanneke van derTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kojo, TuulaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Our interest's on the dangerous edge of things.
The honest thief, the tender murderer,
The superstitious atheist.
- Robert Browning, 'Bishop Blougram's Apology'
Politics in a literary work are a pistol-shot in the middle of a concert, a crude affair though one impossible to ignore. We are about to speak of very ugly matters.
- Stendhal, The Charterhouse of Parma
Well, then, eliminate the people, curtain them, force them to be silent. Because the European Enlightenment is more important than people.
- Feyodor Dostoevsky, Notebooks for The Brothers Karamazov
The Westerner in me was discomposed.
- Joseph Conrad, Under Western Eyes
To Rüya
First words
The silence of the snow, thought the man sitting just behind the bus driver. If this were the beginning of a poem, he would have called the thing he felt inside him the silence of snow.
...Heaven was the place where you kept alive the dreams of your memories. (p. 296)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375706860, Paperback)

Dread, yearning, identity, intrigue, the lethal chemistry between secular doubt and Islamic fanaticism–these are the elements that Orhan Pamuk anneals in this masterful, disquieting novel. An exiled poet named Ka returns to Turkey and travels to the forlorn city of Kars. His ostensible purpose is to report on a wave of suicides among religious girls forbidden to wear their head-scarves. But Ka is also drawn by his memories of the radiant Ipek, now recently divorced. Amid blanketing snowfall and universal suspicion, Ka finds himself pursued by figures ranging from Ipek’s ex-husband to a charismatic terrorist. A lost gift returns with ecstatic suddenness. A theatrical evening climaxes in a massacre. And finding god may be the prelude to losing everything else. Touching, slyly comic, and humming with cerebral suspense, Snow is of immense relevance to our present moment.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:35 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

After years of lonely political exile, Turkish poet Ka returns to Istanbul to attend his mother's funeral and learns about a series of suicides among pious girls forbidden to wear headscarves.

» see all 12 descriptions

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