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Snow (2002)

by Orhan Pamuk

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
6,8581461,287 (3.57)1 / 461
Fiction. Literature. Suspense. Thriller. HTML:Dread, yearning, identity, intrigue, the lethal chemistry between secular doubt and Islamic fanaticismâ??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 mome… (more)
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» See also 461 mentions

English (120)  Dutch (6)  German (5)  French (4)  Italian (2)  Turkish (2)  Spanish (1)  Danish (1)  Hebrew (1)  Polish (1)  Norwegian (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (145)
Showing 1-5 of 120 (next | show all)
Turnish setting
  ndfan19 | Aug 17, 2023 |
"Heaven was the place where you kept alive the dreams of your memories."

Ka is a Turkish poet and political exile living in Germany. He returns to his homeland to attend his mother's funeral and whilst in the country decides to travel to the eastern town of Kars. He arrives in a snowstorm on the last bus before the roads behind him are closed cutting off the town. Ka is purportedly in the town as a journalist, to write about the forthcoming mayoral elections and a recent spate of suicides by young girls banned from school for wearing headscarves but in reality he is motivated more by the hope of a romance with an old school friend, Ipek.

As Ka explores the teahouses, back streets, and institutions of Kars he meets a whole host of people, a newspaper editor who writes the news before it happens, a sheikh, an Islamist teenager who wants to become a science-fiction writer, a terrorist and the headscarf-wearing sister of the woman he hopes to entice back to Germany, and of course the ever-present members of secret police.

While Kars is shut off from the outside world, a coup is carried out by elements of the military led by the leader of a theatrical troupe. Ka himself is uninterested in politics, but he is forced to participate to protect himself and to achieve his dream of a future life with Ipek. Nor can he control his poetic inspiration, which keeps seizing him without warning.

The story is told in the third person, the narrator is a novelist called Orhan, a friend of Ka's who is reconstructing the poet's life after his death several years later even going as far as visiting Kars himself and talking to the people that Ka met there.

Kars is a town a long way from its heyday when it was on important trade routes, but it still exhibits the political and social conflicts of Turkey as a whole: between state and society, between the secular and the religious, between provincial and metropolitan, between Western and Eastern and Pamuk explores all these issues. But it is also a portrait of obsession and jealousy that probes the relationship between art and life.

"Snow" is an ambitious novel and a character driven one. It is something of a slow burner rather than a rip-roaring read but I still found it highly absorbing and I felt that Pamuk held all his many strands together really well. However, I also felt a little let down by the ending. I'm not convinced that there was a need for the narrator to travel to Kars at all as I didn't think that it really added anything to the overall plot, a few questions were answered many were not. Personally I felt that the book should have ended when Ka boarded the train. Nevertheless I would still recommend the book to anyone curious about Turkey. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Aug 2, 2023 |
Didn’t finish, boring. ( )
  ramrak | Jul 14, 2023 |
sometimes i wanted to wrap myself up in the words in this book and cry as Ka was crying, rejoice as he was rejoicing, walk the same streets and see them as beautiful. and sometimes i wanted to yell at him to shut the fuck up. in the end i liked this book in spite of it's "hero," realizing he was one of those people you like at once, until you get to know them better and then ... "oh." ( )
  J.Flux | Aug 13, 2022 |
I read My Name is Red a few years ago and thought it amazing, so I began Snow with anticipation and high hopes. Unfortunately, I struggled to like this book, or even finish it. I think it would have made a good novella.

Ka is a self-absorbed poet who lives in political exile in Frankfurt, Germany. Returning home for his mother's funeral, Ka learns that a woman he formerly had a crush on, Ä°pek, is now divorced and living in a town in the far northeast of Turkey called Kars. When he hears news of a rash of suicides there by girls forbidden to wear headscarves to school, Ka boards a bus for Kars with the intent to write about it for a Frankfurt newspaper. En route it begins snowing heavily, and he barely makes it to Kar before the roads are closed. For the next three days, Ka investigates the headscarf girls, gets involved in a coup, and woos Ä°pek.

The novel is riddled with literary wannabes who seem to have a hand in creating the plot. It is a story within a story with two plays in the middle and peppered with poems which are never revealed to the reader. From page one, the reader is aware that someone is narrating Kars story, and, although he claims omniscience by dint of having read Ka's diaries, the narrator (a novelist) also mimics Ka and seems jealous of him. Is he relating Ka's story or writing it? Ka, who had been in a creative drought prior to his return to Turkey, is flooded with fully composed poems as soon as he arrives in Kars. Is he creating them or simply recording them? Journalists fabricate stories which then come true, actors stage plays with live action consequences, and everyone wants to pass along a message to the West.

The love stories in the book are facile, with little sincerity but lots of angst on the part of our protagonist. I failed to connect with the characters and had little sympathy for their machinations. The only characters I found truly sympathetic are a couple of religious school students and the headscarf suicides whom we never meet.

Pamuk touches upon many issues in his novel—secularism vs Islamist politics, militant nationalism, Kurdish guerilla fighters, the wearing of headscarves, the role of art in Turkish politics—about which I know little. Perhaps if I were more conversant with Turkish history and politics, I would have gotten more out of these sections. As it was I either appealed to Wikipedia or muddled my way through.

Snow was Pamuk's first novel after the wildly successful My Name is Red, and I felt as though he were trying to be as clever and innovative as he had been in that book, but missing the mark. ( )
1 vote labfs39 | Jan 9, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 120 (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
Atwood, MargaretIntroductionsecondary 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, ĹžemsaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heijden, Hanneke van derTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kojo, TuulaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
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
Dedication
To RĂĽya
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.
Quotations
...Heaven was the place where you kept alive the dreams of your memories. (p. 296)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Fiction. Literature. Suspense. Thriller. HTML:Dread, yearning, identity, intrigue, the lethal chemistry between secular doubt and Islamic fanaticismâ??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 mome

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