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Istanbul: Memories and the City

Istanbul: Memories and the City

3.3 25
by Orhan Pamuk, Maureen Freely (Translator)

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A shimmering evocation, by turns intimate and panoramic, of one of the world’s great cities, by its foremost writer. Orhan Pamuk was born in Istanbul and still lives in the family apartment building where his mother first held him in her arms. His portrait of his city is thus also a self-portrait, refracted by memory and the melancholy–or


A shimmering evocation, by turns intimate and panoramic, of one of the world’s great cities, by its foremost writer. Orhan Pamuk was born in Istanbul and still lives in the family apartment building where his mother first held him in her arms. His portrait of his city is thus also a self-portrait, refracted by memory and the melancholy–or hüzün– that all Istanbullus share: the sadness that comes of living amid the ruins of a lost empire.With cinematic fluidity, Pamuk moves from his glamorous, unhappy parents to the gorgeous, decrepit mansions overlooking the Bosphorus; from the dawning of his self-consciousness to the writers and painters–both Turkish and foreign–who would shape his consciousness of his city. Like Joyce’s Dublin and Borges’ Buenos Aires, Pamuk’s Istanbul is a triumphant encounter of place and sensibility, beautifully written and immensely moving.

Editorial Reviews

In this engaging travel narrative, the Dublin Literary Award–winning novelist returns to his teeming home city, reflecting on its unique role as a gateway to both the East and the West. Pamuk mixes urban and personal history, sociology and legend to render an Istanbul that meaning, conflict, and cultural contradictions. A portrait of one of the world's great cities by its foremost literary resident.
Christopher de Bellaigue
Pamuk is not a sunny memoirist, but neither is he a sunny novelist. In this memoir of his youth, as in the six novels he has set in the city, Istanbul bears only a fleeting resemblance to the smiling and vibrant place many Westerners know from vacationing there. Pamuk's hometown is rarely consoling; it is more often troubled and malicious, its voice muffled and its colors muted by snowfalls that happen more often in the author's imagination than in real life. ''From a very young age I suspected there was more to my world than I could see,'' Pamuk writes, and so it goes. Far from a conventional appreciation of the city's natural and architectural splendors, Istanbul tells of an invisible melancholy and the way it acts on an imaginative young man, aggrieving him but pricking his creativity.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Turkish novelist Pamuk (Snow) presents a breathtaking portrait of a city, an elegy for a dead civilization and a meditation on life's complicated intimacies. The author, born in 1952 into a rapidly fading bourgeois family in Istanbul, spins a masterful tale, moving from his fractured extended family, all living in a communal apartment building, out into the city and encompassing the entire Ottoman Empire. Pamuk sees the slow collapse of the once powerful empire hanging like a pall over the city and its citizens. Central to many Istanbul residents' character is the concept of hazan (melancholy). Istanbul's hazan, Pamuk writes, "is a way of looking at life that... is ultimately as life affirming as it is negating." His world apparently in permanent decline, Pamuk revels in the darkness and decay manifest around him. He minutely describes horrific accidents on the Bosphorus Strait and his own recurring fantasies of murder and mayhem. Throughout, Pamuk details the breakdown of his family: elders die, his parents fight and grow apart, and he must find his way in the world. This is a powerful, sometimes disturbing literary journey through the soul of a great city told by one of its great writers. 206 photos. (June 10) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Pamuk, whose My Name Is Red won the 2003 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, fondly remembers and capably details life growing up in the paradoxical city of Istanbul. The city, which Flaubert once predicted would be the capital of the world, is an odd mix of history and modernity, Eastern tradition and Western progress, stateliness and vulgarity. Along with the disparate cultural elements, we get Pamuk's own unique family experiences, which provide the thread of focus through a mosaic of culture, history, art, religion, and politics-elements that continue to shape the city daily in Istanbul's "greatest treasures," its grocery stores and coffeehouses. Whether describing the elegant decay of the Bosporus mansions (so named for their location on the Bosporus Strait) or explaining the wealth and danger of oil tankers and shipping routes, Pamuk paints a picture of a city where the "remains of glorious past civilizations" are everywhere "inflicting heartache" on all who live among them. Fans of Pamuk and his work will enjoy the well-written accounts of his eccentric upbringing, but others might find the multitude of reminiscences distracting. It is the city that is most intriguing. Recommend for larger public libraries, extensive travel collections, and where there is an interest in Muslim history. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/05.]-Mari Flynn, Keystone Coll., La Plume, PA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An eerie, subtle evocation of childhood and a melancholic, loving ode to home. Award-winning novelist Pamuk (Snow, 2004, etc.) grew up in an elite household; his childhood was both charmed and fraught. The cast of characters included his beautiful mother, his two-timing father and his grandmother, who looked like a "relaxed matron from a Renoir painting." They inhabited a culture in transition. The ancient Turkish regime had collapsed, but westernization had not quite rushed in to fill the void; people were mournful and confused, betwixt and between. Even Pamuk's family was finally claimed by "the cloud of gloom and loss that the fall of the Ottoman Empire had spread over Istanbul." His father continually flirted with bankruptcy and would sometimes vanish for days at a time. Young Orhan wanted the city to westernize, yet he wanted everything to remain the same. His memoir also delves into literature and art, discussing how outsiders like Flaubert have seen Istanbul and considering the ways in which Western configurations of the city have shaped its self-understanding. Pamuk discusses the many Western artists, like Antoine-Ignace Melling, who painted the Bosphorus. The author himself took to drawing as a child, painting the landscape and eventually graduating to portraits, among them one of a beautiful girl he would fall in love with. Later, Pamuk studied architecture, but his heart wasn't in it. "Pah," says his mother, "do you think you can earn a living just making pictures? Maybe in Europe, but not here." There it is again, the long shadow of the West. In the last pages, Pamuk turns from art and architecture to writing, making this ultimately a book about vocation. The text is augmentedby a remarkable collection of photographs, many by Ara Guler. Translator Freely also deserves kudos for rendering Pamuk's perfect Turkish adjectives in spare, startling English, from the "ghost-ridden" house to the "cold-blooded candor" of Westerners. An engrossing tale of a city-and of an author as a young man.
From the Publisher
Delightful, profound, marvelously original. . . . Pamuk tells the story of the city through the eyes of memory." –The Washington Post Book World"Far from a conventional appreciation of the city's natural and architectural splendors, Istanbul tells of an invisible melancholy and the way it acts on an imaginative young man, aggrieving him but pricking his creativity." –The New York Times"Brilliant. . . . Pamuk insistently discribes a]dizzingly gorgeous, historically vibrant metropolis." –Newsday “A fascinating read for anyone who has even the slightest acquaintance with this fabled bridge between east and west.” –The Economist

Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.99(w) x 8.68(h) x 1.50(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Another Orhan

From a very young age, I suspected there was more to my world than I could see: Somewhere in the streets of Istanbul, in a house resembling ours, there lived another Orhan so much like me that he could pass for my twin, even my double. I can’t remember where I got this idea or how it came to me. It must have emerged from a web of rumors, misunderstandings, illusions, and fears. But in one of my earliest memories, it is already clear how I’ve come to feel about my ghostly other.

When I was five I was sent to live for a short time in another house. After one of their many stormy separations, my parents arranged to meet in Paris, and it was decided that my older brother and I should remain in Istanbul, though in separate places. My brother would stay in the heart of the family with our grandmother in the Pamuk Apartments, in Niflantaflý, but I would be sent to stay with my aunt in Cihangir. Hanging on the wall in this house–where I was treated with the utmost kindness–was a picture of a small child, and every once in a while my aunt or uncle would point up at him and say with a smile, “Look! That’s you!”

The sweet doe-eyed boy inside the small white frame did look a bit like me, it’s true. He was even wearing the cap I sometimes wore. I knew I was not that boy in the picture (a kitsch representation of a “cute child” that someone had brought back from Europe). And yet I kept asking myself, Is this the Orhan who lives in that other house?

Of course, now I too was living in another house. It was as if I’d had to move here before I could meet my twin, but as I wanted only to return to my real home, I took no pleasure in making his acquaintance. My aunt and uncle’s jovial little game of saying I was the boy in the picture became an unintended taunt, and each time I’d feel my mind unraveling: my ideas about myself and the boy who looked like me, my picture and the picture I resembled, my home and the other house–all would slide about in a confusion that made me long all the more to be at home again, surrounded by my family.

Soon my wish came true. But the ghost of the other Orhan in another house somewhere in Istanbul never left me. Throughout my childhood and well into adolescence, he haunted my thoughts. On winter evenings, walking through the streets of the city, I would gaze into other people’s houses through the pale orange light of home and dream of happy, peaceful families living comfortable lives. Then I would shudder to think that the other Orhan might be living in one of these houses. As I grew older, the ghost became a fantasy and the fantasy a recurrent nightmare. In some dreams I would greet this Orhan–always in another house–with shrieks of horror; in others the two of us would stare each other down in eerie merciless silence. Afterward, wafting in and out of sleep, I would cling ever more fiercely to my pillow, my house, my street, my place in the world. Whenever I was unhappy, I imagined going to the other house, the other life, the place where the other Orhan lived, and in spite of everything I’d half convince myself that I was he and took pleasure in imagining how happy he was, such pleasure that, for a time, I felt no need to go to seek out the other house in that other imagined part of the city.

Here we come to the heart of the matter: I’ve never left Istanbul, never left the houses, streets, and neighborhoods of my childhood. Although I’ve lived in different districts from time to time, fifty years on I find myself back in the Pamuk Apartments, where my first photographs were taken and where my mother first held me in her arms to show me the world. I know this persistence owes something to my imaginary friend, the other Orhan, and to the solace I took from the bond between us. But we live in an age defined by mass migration and creative immigrants, so I am sometimes hard-pressed to explain why I’ve stayed, not only in the same place but in the same building. My mother’s sorrowful voice comes back to me: “Why don’t you go outside for a while? Why don’t you try a change of scene, do some traveling . . . ?”

Conrad, Nabokov, Naipaul–these are writers known for having managed to migrate between languages, cultures, countries, continents, even civilizations. Their imaginations were fed by exile, a nourishment drawn not through roots but through rootlessness. My imagination, however, requires that I stay in the same city, on the same street, in the same house, gazing at the same view. Istanbul’s fate is my fate. I am attached to this city because it has made me who I am.

Gustave Flaubert, who visited Istanbul 102 years before my birth, was struck by the variety of life in its teeming streets; in one of his letters he predicted that in a century’s time it would be the capital of the world. The reverse came true: After the Ottoman Empire collapsed, the world almost forgot that Istanbul existed. The city into which I was born was poorer, shabbier, and more isolated than it had ever been before in its two-thousand-year history. For me it has always been a city of ruins and of end-of-empire melancholy. I’ve spent my life either battling with this melancholy or (like all ‹stanbullus) making it my own.

At least once in a lifetime, self-reflection leads us to examine the circumstances of our birth. Why were we born in this particular corner of the world, on this particular date? These families into which we were born, these countries and cities to which the lottery of life has assigned us–they expect love from us, and in the end we do love them from the bottom of our hearts; but did we perhaps deserve better? I sometimes think myself unlucky to have been born in an aging and impoverished city buried under the ashes of a ruined empire. But a voice inside me always insists this was really a piece of luck. If it is a matter of wealth, I can certainly count myself fortunate to have been born into an affluent family at a time when the city was at its lowest ebb (though some have ably argued the contrary). Mostly, I am disinclined to complain; I’ve accepted the city into which I was born in the same way that I’ve accepted my body (much as I would have preferred to be more handsome and better built) and my gender (even though I still ask myself, naïvely, whether I might been better off had I been born a woman). This is my fate, and there’s no sense arguing with it. This book is concerned with fate.

I was born in the middle of the night on June 7, 1952, in a small private hospital in Moda. Its corridors, I’m told, were peaceful that night, and so was the world. Aside from the Strambolini volcano’s having suddenly begun to spew flames and ash two days earlier, relatively little seems to have been happening on our planet. The newspapers were full of small news: a few stories about the Turkish troops fighting in Korea; a few rumors spread by Americans stoking fears that the North Koreans might be preparing to use biological weapons. In the hours before I was born, my mother had been avidly following a local story: Two days earlier, the caretakers and “heroic” residents of the Konya Student Center had seen a man in a terrifying mask trying to enter a house in Langa through the bathroom window; they’d chased him through the streets to a lumberyard, where, after cursing the police, the hardened criminal had committed suicide; a seller of dry goods identified the corpse as a gangster who the year before had entered his shop in broad daylight and robbed him at gunpoint.

When she was reading the latest on this drama, my mother was alone in her room, or so she told me with a mixture of regret and annoyance many years later. After taking her to the hospital, my father had grown restless and, when my mother’s labor failed to progress, he’d gone out to meet with friends. The only person with her in the delivery room was my aunt, who’d managed to climb over the hospital’s garden wall in the middle of the night. When my mother first set eyes on me, she found me thinner and more fragile than my brother had been.

I feel compelled to add or so I’ve been told. In Turkish we have a special tense that allows us to distinguish hearsay from what we’ve seen with our own eyes; when we are relating dreams, fairy tales, or past events we could not have witnessed, we use this tense. It is a useful distinction to make as we “remember” our earliest life experiences, our cradles, our baby carriages, our first steps, all as reported by our parents, stories to which we listen with the same rapt attention we might pay some brilliant tale of some other person. It’s a sensation as sweet as seeing ourselves in our dreams, but we pay a heavy price for it. Once imprinted in our minds, other people’s reports of what we’ve done end up mattering more than what we ourselves remember. And just as we learn about our lives from others, so too do we let others shape our understanding of the city in which we live.

At times when I accept as my own the stories I’ve heard about my city and myself, I’m tempted to say, “Once upon a time I used to paint. I hear I was born in Istanbul, and I understand that I was a somewhat curious child. Then, when I was twenty-two, I seem to have begun writing novels without knowing why.” I’d have liked to write my entire story this way–as if my life were something that happened to someone else, as if it were a dream in which I felt my voice fading and my will succumbing to enchantment. Beautiful though it is, I find the language of epic unconvincing, for I cannot accept that the myths we tell about our first lives prepare us for the brighter, more authentic second lives that are meant to begin when we awake. Because–for people like me, at least–that second life is none other than the book in your hand. So pay close attention, dear reader. Let me be straight with you, and in return let me ask for your compassion.

Chapter Two

The Photographs in the Dark Museum House

My mother, my father, my older brother, my grandmother, my uncles, and my aunts–we all lived on different floors of the same five-story apartment house. Until the year before I was born, the different branches of the family had (like so many large Ottoman families) lived together in a large stone mansion; in 1951 they rented it out to a private elementary school and built the modern structure I would know as home on the empty lot next door; on the facade, in keeping with the custom of the time, they proudly put up a plaque that said pamuk apt. We lived on the fourth floor, but I had the run of the entire building from the time I was old enough to climb off my mother’s lap and can recall that on each floor there was at least one piano. When my last bachelor uncle put his newspaper down long enough to get married, and his new wife moved into the first-floor apartment, from which she was to spend the next half century gazing out the window, she brought her piano with her. No one ever played, on this one or any of the others; this may be why they made me feel so sad.

But it wasn’t just the unplayed pianos; in each apartment there was also a locked glass cabinet displaying Chinese porcelains, teacups, silver sets, sugar bowls, snuffboxes, crystal glasses, rosewater pitchers, plates, and censers that no one ever touched, although among them I sometimes found hiding places for miniature cars. There were the unused desks inlaid with mother-of-pearl, the turban shelves on which there were no turbans, and the Japanese and Art Nouveau screens behind which nothing was hidden. There, in the library, gathering dust behind the glass, were my doctor uncle’s medical books; in the twenty years since he’d emigrated to America, no human hand had touched them. To my childish mind, these rooms were furnished not for the living but for the dead. (Every once in a while a coffee table or a carved chest would disappear from one sitting room only to appear in another sitting room on another floor.)

If she thought we weren’t sitting properly on her silver-threaded chairs, our grandmother would bring us to attention. “Sit up straight!” Sitting rooms were not meant to be places where you could lounge comfortably; they were little museums designed to demonstrate to a hypothetical visitor that the householders were westernized. A person who was not fasting during Ramadan would perhaps suffer fewer pangs of conscience among these glass cupboards and dead pianos than he might if he were still sitting cross-legged in a room full of cushions and divans. Although everyone knew it as freedom from the laws of Islam, no one was quite sure what else westernization was good for. So it was not just in the affluent homes of Istanbul that you saw sitting-room museums; over the next fifty years you could find these haphazard and gloomy (but sometimes also poetic) displays of western influence in sitting rooms all over Turkey; only with the arrival of television in the 1970s did they go out of fashion. Once people had discovered how pleasurable it was to sit together to watch the evening news, their sitting rooms changed from little museums to little cinemas–although you still hear of old families who put their televisions in their central hallways, locking up their museum sitting rooms and opening them only for holidays or special guests.

Because the traffic between floors was as incessant as it had been in the Ottoman mansion, doors in our modern apartment building were usually left open. Once my brother had started school, my mother would let me go upstairs alone, or else we would walk up together to visit my paternal grandmother in her bed. The tulle curtains in her sitting room were always closed, but it made little difference; the building next door was so close as to make the room very dark anyway, especially in the morning, so I’d sit on the large heavy carpets and invent a game to play on my own. Arranging the miniature cars that someone had brought me from Europe into an obsessively neat line, I would admit them one by one into my garage. Then, pretending the carpets were seas and the chairs and tables islands, I would catapult myself from one to the other without ever touching water (much as Calvino’s Baron spent his life jumping from tree to tree without ever touching ground). When I was tired of this airborne adventure or of riding the arms of the sofas like horses (a game that may have been inspired by memories of the horse-drawn carriages of Heybeliada), I had another game that I would continue to play as an adult whenever I got bored: I’d imagine that the place in which I was sitting (this bedroom, this sitting room, this classroom, this barracks, this hospital room, this government office) was really somewhere else; when I had exhausted the energy to daydream, I would take refuge in the photographs that sat on every table, desk, and wall.

Meet the Author

Orhan Pamuk's novel My Name Is Red won the 2003 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. His work has been translated into more than twenty languages. He lives in Istanbul.

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Istanbul 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The other day I have picked up the latest book by our first Turkish Nobel Laureate in literature, Orhan Pamuk. As far as one could tell, the decision to honor him with the Nobel Prize was largely based on this particular literary accomplishment. At least, when asked by reporters why Pamuk deserved the Prize, Professor Horace Engdahl, the very multilingual Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, kept referring to this book. The book in question, Istanbul: Memoirs and the City, is a concoction of encyclopedic information, nostalgia-invoking monochrome photographs and the author's unsettling childhood memories. It could very well be crowned his worst work to date by readers familiar with the author's previous books. As I forced myself through page after page of what seems to be Pamuk's much distorted perception of his hometown, I can honestly say that his childhood memories sprinkled here and there were what kept me awake. Just like in his previous works, a constant undertone of pessimism and hopelessness is palpable throughout the book, but his negativism is more disconcerting this time around as he unsuccessfully tries to ascribe his internal conflicts and his personal darkness to a magnificent town whose wonders never cease to amaze. Owing to his affluent background and is uber-privileged vantage point, Pamuk's views are so dreadfully skewed that you might start believing him while he wholeheartedly describes the citizens of his version of Istanbul, hovering in a dream-like state of communal melancholy. His imaginary Istanbul - with its decrepit buildings, filthy streets and rabid dogs roaming its dark, narrow, and decaying alleys - is not the vibrant city throbbing with liveliness that the ordinary folks, like his readers or the lower class Istanbullus for that matter, are able to perceive. His repeated use of the adjective dilapidated to describe certain aspects of Istanbul feels deliberate and malevolent. As he paints this almost repulsive picture of Istanbul, he does not fail to rebut disagreeing views of European Istanbul lovers by telling them, 'You need to live here at least ten years to be able to see it through my eyes.' Who are you to know what you are seeing? Pamuk sees Istanbul as a fallen fantasy town where he is entitled to scorn poverty and the impoverished which uglifies what is rightfully his. He is visibly and unashamedly tormented as this city, for which he fosters a pathological affection, ignores his irrational expectations of conformity altogether. She continues to pulsate, breathe and change, remains jovial and full of energy, determined to enjoy whatever life throws at her as Pamuk watches from the sidelines in anguish. Most disturbing of it all is his suggestion, maybe not directly but most certainly inferentially, that Istanbullus have no fight left in them. They have already lost the game and have made peace with the fact - hence comes the hüzün a term he is trying a little too hard to coin - and are desperately waiting for the shoe to drop. (Hey, why not generalize this to the entire country while we are at it and reinforce the whole Sick-Man-of-Europe deal?) Pamuk's yearning for all things European and his dislike for whatever may represent the east is even more pronounced in parts of the book where he professes his love to Istanbul. It is fair to say that Pamuk's work brought him very little acclaim in Turkish literature, and few if no awards. His writing skills have always been an issue of debate among his colleagues. Nowadays, there is a lot of discussion in Turkey about how his literary inelegance is magically lost in translation, how his sentences are invigorated and become more passable with some creative interpretation from his talented translator Melling Freely, as well as many proven accusations of plagiarism. Until recently, Pamuk has been known to steer clear of politics. He has spent most of his career carefully avoiding political subjects, or
AnnieBM More than 1 year ago
This memoir is an intellectual's refelction on his own life and development in the context of mid to late 20th century Instanbul. The images, both literary and photographic, are deeply meaningful and lyrical. While the book offers some insights into Istanbul and Turkey's history, culture, and development, it is primarily about Orhan Pamuk's reflection on these and their impact on his own life. Orhan Pamuk beings his tale with his interest in art, especially painting, weaving this interst all through the book until, in conclusion, he wants to become a writer. I recommned it in general but also as background to reading Orhan Pamuk's novels.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be a bit disappointing, I'd consider it to be read as a "portrait" of an artist/writer instead of as an insight on the city of Istanbul. A few descriptions/stories were insightful, however most were a bit odd and hard to understand the relevance to the subject matter.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoy more pedantic stuff, but this was just a little too inaccessible. Maybe Pamuk takes for granted all these Turkish journalists and poets and European artists he mentions who are inextricably tied to his memory and sensibilities experienced in growing up in 50's-70's Istanbul, but I personally could not pronounce half of them, let alone had heard of any of them before. While he does go out of his way to brief the reader on some of the history and people he mentions connected with Turkey, a lot of the time one feels he's off in his own elite world, spouting names and images significant to him for whatever reasons he does not elaborate on too well. That said, it is a beautifully-written book. It is not quite memoir, not quite travel essay, not quite history, not quite autobiography. Readers may complain that the only 'juicy' parts of the book are when Pamuk actually delves into his own personal life and emotions, rather than spout off vignette after vignette of life and scenery in the derelict, post-Glory age, former hub metropolis of bridging the eastern and western world. I sympathize with these readers. I must admit, the most personable and riveting part of the work was Pamuk's almost confessional-style account of his sexual frustrations and first love with a female friend and model, toward the end of the work. (Perhaps that's just the effect of 21st century overstimulation for you though, which Pamuk is original enough to not pursue). That said, there doubtless is more to be appreciated about Pamuk than I have the capacity for right now. His subtle, dry outlook in all his descriptions should not be overlooked. I would grapple with readers who try to brush him off right away for being 'completely pessimistic' or 'depressing.' Like any good writer, it is an infatuation that had driven Pamuk to write this book - not apathy or even pathos, as the tone of the book initially exudes. The book itself is very well done, complete with shadowy black and white photographs that very appropriately reflect the book's cynical voice - 'Pamuk even has a chapter entitled 'Black and White'' - giving this quasi hisotry-memoir- literary work an almost journalistic flair. It was simply too narrow of an interest and too heavy-handed on the intellectual minutiae to really rivet me.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm accustomed to memoirs making someone¿s stories come to life, the (sometimes) everyday-ness of their lives magnified and colorful. This book made Pamuk seem as dreary as he made life in Istanbul. Although he possesses wonderful writing style for his own memories the book itself seemed to be much more focused on fragmented bits of history leaving the precious well-written segments about his own experience, few and far between. Since Pamuk¿s book opens with one of these more personal scenes, the reader gets the impression that the book follows through in this form. However, he as the character, seems more like a vehicle to explain the history of the era by the second or third chapter. The sporadic back and forth in age and time, the depressing state of mind, make the history lack luster. If you *really* like history you may find this interesting, but if you're like me and thought it would be an interesting tales of youth in Istanbul, you may want to reconsider.
Guest More than 1 year ago
An interesting book that turned out to be a quicker read then I thought. His personal accounts of the city and growing up are what makes him a Noble prize winner. This is a really good coming of age book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really can't state all the reasons for my rating right now, I have no time truly, but I can give the number one reason. I read to escape the worries and realities of my own life , if for only a few hours every night, and with this book I was so taken in by the city and Pamuk's personal stories that I really did forget everything. It was like being part of the city I could feel the atmosphere all over. There are many more reasons why I loved this book, but all I can say is read it for yourself.