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LIVING AND WORRYING
1. The Implied Author
2. My Father
3. Notes on April 29, 1994
4. Spring Afternoons
5. Dead Tired in the Evening
6. Out of Bed, in the Silence of Night
7. When the Furniture Is Talking, How Can You Sleep?
8. Giving Up Smoking
9. Seagull in the Rain
10. A Seagull Lies Dying on the Shore
11. To Be Happy
12. My Wristwatches
13. I’m Not Going to School
14. Rüya and Us
15. When Rüya Is Sad
16. The View
17. What I Know About Dogs
18. A Note on Poetic Justice
19. After the Storm
20. In This Place Long Ago
21. The House of the Man Who Has No One
23. Fires and Ruins
25. Bosphorus Ferries
26. The Islands
28. Earthquake Angst in Istanbul
BOOKS AND READING
29. How I Got Rid of Some of My Books
30. On Reading: Words or Images
31. The Pleasures of Reading
32. Nine Notes on Book Covers
33. To Read or Not to Read: The Thousand and One Nights
34. Foreword to Tristram Shandy:
Everyone Should Have an Uncle Like This
35. Victor Hugo’s Passion for Greatness
36. Dostoyevsky’s Notes from Underground: The Joys of Degradation
37. Dostoyevsky’s Fearsome Demons
38. The Brothers Karamazov
39. Cruelty, Beauty, and Time: On Nabokov’s Ada and Lolita
40. Albert Camus
41. Reading Thomas Bernhard in a Time of Unhappiness
42. The World of Thomas Bernhard’s Novels
43. Mario Vargas Llosa and Third World Literature
44. Salman Rushdie: The Satanic Verses and the Freedom of the Writer
POLITICS, EUROPE, AND OTHER PROBLEMS OF BEING ONESELF
45. PEN Arthur Miller Speech
46. No Entry
47. Where Is Europe?
48. A Guide to Being Mediterranean
49. My First Passport and Other European Journeys
50. André Gide
51. Family Meals and Politics on Religious Holidays
52. The Anger of the Damned
53. Traffic and Religion
54. In Kars and Frankfurt
55. On Trial
56. Who Do You Write For?
MY BOOKS ARE MY LIFE
57. The White Castle Afterword
58. The Black Book: Ten Years On
59. A Selection from Interviews on The New Life
60. A Selection from Interviews on My Name Is Red
61. On My Name Is Red
62. From the Snow in Kars Notebooks
PICTURES AND TEXTS
63. Sirin’s Surprise
64. In the Forest and as Old as the World
65. Murders by Unknown Assailants and Detective Novels
66. Entr’acte; or, Ah, Cleopatra!
67. Why Didn’t I Become an Architect?
68. Selimiye Mosque
69. Bellini and the East
70. Black Pen
OTHER CITIES, OTHER CIVILIZATIONS
72. My First Encounters with Americans
73. Views from the Capital of the World
THE PARIS REVIEW INTERVIEW
TO LOOK OUT THE WINDOW
MY FATHER’S SUITCASE
1. Have Pamuk’s books changed your perceptions of Turkey? What insights do they offer into the country’s history and place in the world?
2. Have his books given you a deeper understanding of the Muslim world? Have they altered your opinion about the current situation in the Middle East and other parts of the world where Islam is the dominant religion? Have you become more or less sympathetic?
3. Pamuk’s novels range over a wide span of time, from the sixteenth century (My Name Is Red) to the present day (Snow). Compare your reactions to the historical novels and the contemporary works. Which do you prefer and why?
4. In these books what impact do the tensions between Eastern and Western beliefs and customs have on individual lives, on the relations between classes and ethnic groups, or on political debates? What competing ideologies (or ways of thinking) affect the characters’ behavior and emotional responses? Consider the ethical, religious, and social dilemmas individuals face and how they resolve them.
5. Snow is prefaced by epigraphs from Robert Browning, Stendahl, Dostoevsky, and Joseph Conrad. How does each of them apply not only to Snow, but also to the other Pamuk books you have read? Citing specific passages, how would you characterize the author’s feelings about Western attitudes toward the Muslim world?
6. What role do perceptions—or misperceptions—about Islamic law and religious customs play in the assumptions Westerners make about Muslims? Are there current controversies in the United States or Europe that support your view?
7. Do Pamuk’s depictions of the relationships between men and women conform to your impressions of romance, marriage, and family life in a Muslim society? How are women presented in the historical novels? In what ways do the women in the novels set in the present (or in the recent past) embody both traditional female roles and the new opportunities they have to express their opinions and act on their beliefs?
8. Istanbul opens with an essay about Pamuk’s feelings as a child that “somewhere in the streets of Istanbul . . . there lived another Orhan so much like me that he could pass for my own twin, even my double” (page 3). Many reviewers, including John Updike, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, and Charles McGrath, have written about what McGrath calls “an enduring Pamuk preoccupation: the idea of doubleness or split identity” (New York Times, October 13, 2006). Can you find examples of doubleness in the books you have read, and if so, what do these add to the story? What insights do they reveal about Pamuk’s own sense of identity?
9. What techniques does Pamuk use to bring his characters, real and fictional, to life? How do his descriptions of settings, manners, and other everyday details enhance the portraits he creates? What use does he make of humor, exaggeration, and other stylistic flourishes in his depictions of particular situations, conversations, musings, and arguments?
10. Pamuk employs many of the literary devices associated with postmodern and experimental fiction. (McGrath, for example, notes his use of “narratives within narratives, texts that come alive, labyrinths of signs and symbols . . .”). In what ways do his books echo Italo Calvino’s allegorical fantasies? What do they share with the writings of Jorge Luis Borges and other magical realists? What aspects of his literary style can be traced to earlier masters of innovative fiction like Kafka and Nabokov?
11. In an essay on the Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa in Other Colors, Pamuk writes, “It is clear . . . that there is a sort of narrative novel that is particular to the countries of the Third World. Its originality has less to do with the writer’s location than with the fact that he knows he is writing far from the world’s literary centers and he feels this distance inside himself” (page 168). Discuss how this manifests itself in Pamuk’s own works, as well as the works of Vargas Llosa and other authors writing from the Third World. Are there creative advantages to living and writing “far from the world’s literary centers”?
12. Pamuk writes in Istanbul of authors who left their homelands—Conrad, Nabokov, Naipaul: “Their imaginations were fed by exile, a nourishment drawn not through roots, but through rootlessness” (page 6). If you have read the works of these writers, or other authors in exile, do you agree that their books reflect—in style or in content—the effects of living in a new, foreign culture? To what extent is Pamuk’s writing rooted in the storytelling traditions of Eastern cultures? In what ways does it show the influence of his early exposure to Western literature, his participation in international literary circles, and his longtime association with American academia?
13. Despite the many differences between the societies Pamuk describes and our own, why do his characters and their behavior resonant with contemporary English-speaking readers? Are there aspects of Turkish mores that make it difficult to sympathize or engage with the characters in the novels? Do these factors also influence your reactions to his autobiographical pieces, literary criticism, and cultural observations in both Other Colors and Istanbul?
14. How does Pamuk’s personal history, as well as the plots of some novels, mirror the complicated history of Turkey? Consider such topics as: the decline and dissolution of the once powerful Ottoman Empire; the sweeping changes initiated by Atatürk in the 1920s; the conflicting desires to preserve Turkey’s distinctive heritage and to become more active in the global community; and the rise of fundamentalist Islam throughout Middle East today.
15. In discussing the importance of novels, Pamuk says, “Modern societies, tribes, and nations do their deepest thinking about themselves by reading novels; through reading novels, they are able to argue about who they are” (Other Colors, page 233). Do you agree? What can novels provide that nonfiction books and other media do not?
(For a complete list of available reading group guides, and to sign up for the Reading Group Center enewsletter, visit www.readinggroupcenter.com)
Posted July 23, 2011
No text was provided for this review.
Posted February 5, 2012
No text was provided for this review.