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Most Helpful Favorable Review
3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.
Magical realism bogged down by repetitive themes.
I came to regard the novel Snow by Orhan Pamuk as a work of magical realism, due largely to the titular weather that serves as a backdrop to the story. It creates a nocturnal atmosphere of mystery, fantasy and enchantment that frames the events in the novel. Kars, the T...
I came to regard the novel Snow by Orhan Pamuk as a work of magical realism, due largely to the titular weather that serves as a backdrop to the story. It creates a nocturnal atmosphere of mystery, fantasy and enchantment that frames the events in the novel. Kars, the Turkish border city that serves as the setting, is isolated by deep and perpetual snow. You can imagine the city contained in a snow globe that, when shaken¿well¿ you get the picture. The central character, Ka, comes to Kars as a journalist to cover an epidemic of suicides of young women who, upholding Islamic law, refuse to bare their heads. Many of the accolades sited in the Vintage edition of Snow refer to it as a political novel. But this is hard to swallow because the major events are not political as much as burlesque social and cultural upheavals. The novel¿s central conflict is between the modern secular government and traditional Islamic values. That orthodox Islamic women cover their heads with scarves, while contemporary secular values encourage them to bare their heads, becomes the central emblem of this conflict. The setting of the situations in this novel are clearly defined, but it¿s the characters that are hard to pin down. They glide through the story like ghosts. They lack physical definition¿except to note a woman¿s enormous breasts¿and exist almost wholly as psychological beings. This and the fact that the characters are consumed by their own romantic and spiritual passions have resulted in some critics considering this a Dostoevskian novel. And as with Dostoevsky, the author/narrator makes appearances to guide us through the story. So, is Snow a good read? The other night my wife asked me what it was about. I answered that it was about two hundred pages too long. Conversations and situations are repeated throughout the novel. The original premise of the secular v. the devout is diluted by recycled conversations about the meaning of belief, atheism, love and radical Islam, many of which take place in crowded tea houses, of which there are apparently many. I may have the disadvantage of a cultural divide, but Snow becomes, for all of its provocative early setup, an arduous read. This is not a happy novel and the greatest joy it delivers at the end is that, well, you¿ve actually finished the damn thing. Oh, and there is the happy presence of a small dog. Wasn¿t there such a dog in Brothers Karamazov? And is the payoff that people are as individual as snowflakes, as surmised by the author? Is this all the heft this novel has? This is, after all, a story within a story. The author, whose intrusions into the story line are sparse at first, goes full blown at the end and it becomes his story, not Ka¿s. Perhaps you¿ll do as I did. Be intrigued that Orhan Pamuk won the Nobel Prize, wonder why this is so, and take on the challenge of reading Snow. And if you get through the thing, you may look back on a shadowy experience populated by ethereal characters.
posted by Anonymous on August 3, 2008Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Most Helpful Critical Review
2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.
dull dull dull
Drab. Boring. Flat. Snow was one of the most uninteresting books I've ever read. I couldn't relate to any of the characters or situations. The plot, though it sounds interesting, was very dull and frankly it just couldn't keep my attention. Blah!
posted by songcatchers on April 9, 2009Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.