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The Black Book by Orhan Pamuk
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The Black Book (1990)

by Orhan Pamuk

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1,832316,107 (3.67)55
Galip is a lawyer living in Istanbul. His wife, the detective-novel-loving Rüya, has disappeared. Could she have left him for her ex-husband, Celâl, a popular newspaper columnist? But Celâl, too, seems to have vanished. As Galip investigates, he finds himself assuming the enviable Celâl's identity, wearing his clothes, answering his phone calls, even writing his columns. Galip pursues every conceivable clue, but the nature of the mystery keeps changing, and when he receives a death threat, he begins to fear the worst. With its cascade of beguiling stories about Istanbul, The Black Book is a brilliantly unconventional mystery, and a provocative meditation on identity. For Turkish literary readers it is the cherished cult novel in which Orhan Pamuk found his original voice, but it has largely been neglected by English-language readers. Now, in Maureen Freely's beautiful new translation, they, too, may encounter all its riches.--Publisher description.… (more)

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» See also 55 mentions

English (29)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (31)
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
The physical reconstruction of memory is an interesting idea. ( )
  alik-fuchs | Apr 27, 2018 |
My copy has Pamuk’s and Freely’s signature on the 2nd page and the year 2007, which must have been the year I listened to their conversation in Hay and also the year I read the book for the first time. But I have forgotten everything. Every sentence, every image evoked is as fresh now as if I imagine it for the first time. But perhaps I have never read it, perhaps I browsed some pages, found that the book demands time and attention, more than I was able or willing to give then, so I had put it aside for some future time.

The reader is emerged in a Wunderkammer, is lost like Alice in enchanted gardens where nothing is quite what it seems, where objects and encounters present and past are, or may be, signs revealing secret meanings to those who learn to read them, where the protagonists strive to gain, or fear to loose, the sense of themselves. Pamuk says of his writing (in an interview given 2006 to ‘Le Monde des livres’): „Mon style d’écriture, mon mode de composition, requièrent un imense esprit d’enfance. Et la responsabilité de l’écriture se limite, au fond de moi, au jeu démoniaque et magique avec les règles du monde.“

I had some difficulties at first getting into this strange and fascinating book but half-way through it grabbed me and did not let me go. (III-18) ( )
  MeisterPfriem | Mar 26, 2018 |
This book took me over a month to read, which contributes to the rating I finally gave it - 2.5 stars. It started with promise - Galip, a lawyer living in Istanbul, comes home one day to find that his wife has left him. She leaves him a 19-word note (we never find out what the note said). Galip thinks maybe she has gone back to her first husband, or maybe to his cousin, a very popular columnist who is his wife's half brother. He looks for clues all over Istanbul, and in the writings of his cousin, to try to find where his wife has gone.

The good things about the book are that I learned a lot about Istanbul and about the culture and history of Turkey. I found the structure of the book to be interesting - every other chapter was an essay written by his cousin the columnist.

It was a bit surreal - the things Galip does to ostensibly find clues to where his wife has gone are just crazy. Also, the writing was at times a bear to get through - it was a very dense book! I think I understood this a bit more when I read the translator's afterword - the Turkish language doesn't have the verb to be, there are many more tenses than in English, the passive voice seems to be preferred - all of this combines together to make for very long sentences.

I kept wondering if I would learn where Galip's wife was by the end of the novel and why she left him; I did understand what finally happened to her, and I think I understand the answer to the mystery (although it is ambiguous...), but I can't say that getting through this book was worth it! ( )
  LisaMorr | Nov 24, 2017 |
გაცვეთილი თემა მწერლებზე და მათ ცხოვრებაზე (მარტინ იდენით ინსპირირებული) ( )
  buqu | Dec 4, 2014 |
When Galip's wife, Ruya, disappears, he tells friends and relations that she is ill, sleeping, just gone out, but sends her love. When he realizes that Jelal, the famed columnist to whom they are both related is also missing he conceals this second disappearance by ghosting Jelal's column. Meanwhile, imagining himself as a character in a Turkish detective story, Galip sets out to find his wife. Throughout the novel the narrative chapters alternate with Jelal's columns, which may contain clues, but in Pamuk's Istanbul truth is buried deep beneath rumour, fantasy and conspiracy theories. Guneli Gun deserves credit for his fine translation.
  Oandthegang | May 26, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (34 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Pamuk, Orhanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Andac, MunewerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carpintero Ortega, RafaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Catany, AntoniPhotographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Compta, VíctorTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dorleijn, MargreetTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Evans, GarethCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Freely, MaureenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gün, GüneliTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kučera, PetrTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miškinienė, GalinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mir i Malé, EnricDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Ibn' Arabi writes of a friend and dervish saint who, after his soul was elevated to the heavens, arrived on Mount Kaf, the magic mountain that encircles the world; gazing around him, he saw that the mountain itself was encircled by a serpent. Now, it is a well-known fact that no such mountain encircles the world, nor is there a serpent.
-The Encyclopedia of Islam
Dedication
For Eileen
To Aylin
First words
Rüya was lying facedown on the bed, lost to the sweet warm darkness beneath the billowing folds of the blue-checked quilt.
There is no verb to be in Turkish, nor is there a verb to have. (Afterword)
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