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Snow by Orhan Pamuk

Snow (2002)

by Orhan Pamuk

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,244120846 (3.58)1 / 367
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English (99)  German (5)  Dutch (4)  French (3)  Turkish (2)  Norwegian (1)  Swedish (1)  Italian (1)  Hebrew (1)  Danish (1)  Polish (1)  All languages (119)
Showing 1-5 of 99 (next | show all)
Wonderful and heartbreaking story. ( )
  ronhenry | Nov 17, 2015 |
In Orhan Pamuk’s Snow, a man comes home. As always, the context is excruciatingly important. Ka, a Turkish poet, who has lived for a while in Germany, returns to his home country to investigate a series of young suicides in the town of Kars. It’s a small town, and religious tensions run high. Ka doesn’t write much poetry any more, but the folks in Kars, when not dodging political subterfuge or looking for angles, give him more credit than he deserves for his writing. In the town of Kars lives Ipek, a woman recently separated from her political candidate husband, a woman who reminds Ka of better days, a woman who he thinks can save him and his poetry. In the dead of winter, Ka soon learns, however, just how heavy and silent the snow can be.

Pamuk’s work comes from a country scarred by centuries of religious debate. While the government still desperately clings to idea that it can be secular and separate from the fight, those who run for office or speak out against those in power do so from the perspective of their faith. Ka’s business in Kars is constantly bombarded by people with questions about his faith. Does he believe in God? Did he leave Turkey because he no longer has faith? Does he think the suicides in town are due to the head-scarf debate? All Ka really wants is an answer to a single question: Will Ipek marry him? His indifference to all else leads him on a journey into the weird Orwellian political underbelly of Turkish culture. He meets with rebel leaders and local police on equal footing so long as it gets him in Ipek’s good graces.

Snow presents itself as a gathered story. The narrator has found Ka’s journals, newspaper clippings, video tapes, and official documents and tries to piece together Ka’s story as the suicides unfold. Presumably, Ka keeps very extensive notes. The glaring exception here is that all of Ka’s poems are missing. He is even asked to recite a poem on local television, but he never gets the chance. All we get are snippets and environments, but never the finished products. In short, we keep seeing the inspirations, but never what was inspired. Even though Snow is about a foreign culture and debate, I never felt completely removed from the tale. Pamuk’s words are rich, haunting, detailed, and dripping with commentary. If I ever get a chance, I will definitely read more by him. ( )
  NielsenGW | Oct 6, 2014 |
Melancholy and fatality pervade this novel. Here, poetic structure is a six-sided snowflake: reason, imagination, and memory forming the three axes. Ka, a well-known Turkish poet and the central character in the novel, returns to Turkey for a brief visit. He has been a political exile in Germany for many years. Specifically, he returns to Kars, an economically depressed and politically divided city that once was a hub of Russian, Armenian and Turkish culture. He has come to Kars ostensibly to report on a series of suicides by "head scarf girls." Whether these suicides were personal or political in nature remains undecided, as does the motivation for all action and inaction in the novel. Ka, not having written any new poems in years, writes 19 poems while in Kars, a group of poems that will comprise a lost manuscript entitled "Snow." These poems come to him all of a piece as if transmitted from "above" or "outside" himself. Ka, despite himself, becomes implicated in a weekend coup literally "staged" by an actor in cahoots with rogue members of the army and security forces, as well as mere hoodlums. The coup targets some religious high school boys and a mesmerizing Islamist rebel named Blue and results in 29 deaths. Events that seem to take place over an extended period of time actually transpire in a matter of 3 days during which the city is snowed in and cut off from the outside world. During these 3 days, Ka writes his 19 poems and experiences both bliss and fatal jealousy in the arms of the beautiful Ipek, one of Blue's former lovers. Midway through the novel, we learn that the narrator is a famous novelist and friend of Ka's who recapitulates Ka's journey thanks to Ka's journals. The journals describe the writing of the missing poems and all the events of Ka's weekend in Kars, except for the one missing hour that ultimately determines Ka's fate. At the end of the day, life can't be sorted out. Snow is always falling and obscuring our view. In this novel, as in all his writing, Pamuk's prose is mysterious and evocative. ( )
  Paulagraph | May 25, 2014 |
I share a birthday with Orhan Pamuk born in Istanbul in 1952. He grew up in a large family in a wealthy, westernized district of Turkey. According to his official website, until the age of 22 he dreamed of becoming an artist. He graduated from Robert College in Istanbul, and then studied architecture at Istanbul Technical but abandoned this course for a degree in journalism from Istanbul University. He never worked as a journalist. At the age of 23 Pamuk decided to become a novelist and retreated into his flat and began to write. Orhan’s books have been translated into 46 languages, and he has won numerous literary awards in Turkey and Europe. He was awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize for Literature, becoming the second youngest person to receive the award in its history. Apart from three years teaching in New York, Orhan Pamuk has spent his entire life in the same streets and district of Istanbul. He now lives in the building where he was raised. Pamuk has been writing novels for 30 years and never had any other job except writing.

I always read at least one work by each year’s Nobel Laureate. This habit has led me to discover many great writers—Saramago, Kurtesz, White, and a few others. Snow by Orhan Pamuk is one complex novel – but don’t let that stop you! Pamuk has told an intricate tale with lots of interesting characters. The mystery narrator of the novel, reveals himself at the end, and that is a big surprise. The story is absorbing, and the history and politics provide the reader with lots the twists and turns.

At first, I thought I might not get through Snow, but something kept pulling me along. I began to build up speed, and, about a third of the way through, I was captivated. I could barely put it down over the last 150 pages. A description of another of his novels intrigued me, and like the multiplication of cats, one good book leads to a full shelf.

For me, the beginning of a novel holds great importance. The opening lines can bore, intrigue, cause laughter, or tears. Pamuk intrigues when he writes of Ka an exiled poet, who returns to his home village: “The silence of 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 the snow. // He’d boarded the bus from Erzurum to Kars with only seconds to spare. He’d just come into the station on a bus from Istanbul – a snowy, stormy, two-day journey – and was rushing up and down the dirty wet corridors with his bag in tow, looking for his connection, when someone told him the bus for Kars was leaving immediately” (3). Pamuk mixes quiet introspection with the rush and hustle of the outside world.

I did notice a couple of missing pieces of the cultural puzzle which would have helped me appreciate the story more. But the prose of Orhan Pamuk's novel, Snow is reward enough. 4½ stars.

--Chiron, 5/25/14 ( )
  rmckeown | May 25, 2014 |
Short synopsis: A story set in Kars, Turkey. Ka, a poet, visits on assignment to write about the suicides of young women. His reason for being there is Ipek who he plans to bring back to Germany as his wife. It is snowing……

Reactions: at first I wanted to like this story, it has been described as poetic and I think that is accurate for the first part of the book but it is also as boring as looking at a snow covered landscape devoid of color. I think the author had something going by using the snow to describe the experience of Ka but then it just “melted”. At first, I felt resentment. I did not like that the Islamist kept telling others how they were thinking. It made me hate this religion. There is no grace or mercy here. Its hard for me to understand the intolerance for Christianity and the blindly tolerant view of Islam. Then there was some enlightenment. The mixed messages that people living in Kars receive through communism or socialism, Islam, etc was evident. The girls raised to wear a scarf, taught that it was expected in their religion and then told to “take the scarf off”. The confusion caused by the mixing of politics with religion and the manipulation used by the various parties. No one seemed to think it was wrong to lie and to harm others if it promoted the agenda.

I first I thought I could like Ka but I could not. I could understand wanting to meet up with a former acquaintance and propose and get married. I think that is an okay goal but when he started being devious and manipulative in his endeavors, then I no longer was happy with him. The interest in pornography had also crippled him, in my opinion. He was a weak man and in the end he just went too far with his jealousies.

The authors purpose: Mr Pamuk states that he wanted to write a novel that would explore the political conflicts in Turkey. He used a small town to give a microcosm view of the whole. He discusses in the postscript how difficult it is to write a political novel about this area and apparently there were political persecutions for which he had to hire a lawyer. The book involved a not of careful editing. The author is a recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2006. His partner is the author, Kiran Desai.

Why is it included in 1001 Books you Must Read Before You Die? Is there anything that this book adds to the development of the novel? I suspect that because this is a work that looks at political Islam, clash of Western and Islam and that the author is Turkey that this book is unique. The use of lyrical prose and the technique where the author writes himself into the story is not unique. Characters were frequently stereotypes. Ka was developed. The other characters represented certain characters and classes in the microcosm of Turkey. The language did create the scene, the use of snow was ‘smart’ in keeping everyone contained in this drama for three days and the tone was set by the snow. The book had emotional impact though not necessarily positive for me. I am glad to be done. I think the author probably deserved the Nobel Prize for literature for being able to write this controversial and potentially risky novel.

I also wanted to add this quote; "If only to see themselves as wise and superior and humanistic, they need to think of us as sweet and funny, and convince themselves that they sympathize with the way we are and even love us." page 442. I think this is very true (but not for me). I don't like their religion or their politics. ( )
  Kristelh | May 14, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 99 (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 (35 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Orhan Pamukprimary 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
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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 the 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 6 descriptions

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