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P. 1
My Name Is Red

My Name Is Red

Ratings:

3.76

(939)
|Views: 1,075|Likes:
Published by Alfred A. Knopf
At once a fiendishly devious mystery, a beguiling love story, and a brilliant symposium on the power of art, My Name Is Red is a transporting tale set amid the splendor and religious intrigue of sixteenth-century Istanbul, from one of the most prominent contemporary Turkish writers.

The Sultan has commissioned a cadre of the most acclaimed artists in the land to create a great book celebrating the glories of his realm. Their task: to illuminate the work in the European style. But because figurative art can be deemed an affront to Islam, this commission is a dangerous proposition indeed. The ruling elite therefore mustn’t know the full scope or nature of the project, and panic erupts when one of the chosen miniaturists disappears. The only clue to the mystery–or crime? –lies in the half-finished illuminations themselves. Part fantasy and part philosophical puzzle, My Name is Red is a kaleidoscopic journey to the intersection of art, religion, love, sex and power.

Translated from the Turkish by Erda M Göknar
At once a fiendishly devious mystery, a beguiling love story, and a brilliant symposium on the power of art, My Name Is Red is a transporting tale set amid the splendor and religious intrigue of sixteenth-century Istanbul, from one of the most prominent contemporary Turkish writers.

The Sultan has commissioned a cadre of the most acclaimed artists in the land to create a great book celebrating the glories of his realm. Their task: to illuminate the work in the European style. But because figurative art can be deemed an affront to Islam, this commission is a dangerous proposition indeed. The ruling elite therefore mustn’t know the full scope or nature of the project, and panic erupts when one of the chosen miniaturists disappears. The only clue to the mystery–or crime? –lies in the half-finished illuminations themselves. Part fantasy and part philosophical puzzle, My Name is Red is a kaleidoscopic journey to the intersection of art, religion, love, sex and power.

Translated from the Turkish by Erda M Göknar

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Publish date: Dec 5, 2006
Added to Scribd: Apr 08, 2012
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reservedISBN:9780307386465
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04/12/2014

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wjmcomposer reviewed this
Rated 1/5
First to note: I didn't finish this book.

That said, let me tell you why:
This book is beautifully written, no question, and presents engaging and masterfully conceived themes and leitmotivs. However, in a book where one of the themes is blindness, I thought I was going to go blind reading the interlocked passages of this book. The narrative techniques are stimulating, viewing events from the perspectives of a drawing, or a coin. But seriously...at times I almost thought about putting in eye drops, and I DETEST eye drops. Despite my love of difficult literature, and the love I'm experiencing for Joyce's Ulysses as I read that, this book was driving me crazy. Many people will love this award winner, and I'm not saying they are wrong. But this book was just wrong for ME.
carmenere_1 reviewed this
Rated 5/5
"I am nothing but a corpse now, a body at the bottom of a well." In the very first line of My Name is Red Pamuk relates the death and troubled soul of one of the Sultan's most skilled miniaturists, Elegant Effendi And so, begins the reader's journey into the secretive and often abusive world of miniaturist artists working in Istanbul in the 16th century. It is at a time in history when the long sought after city is at a crossroads. Geographically as well as artistically, Turkey is on the edge of Asia and Europe. A country trying to hold on to its Mongol influenced artistry while the introduction of Frank and Venetian styles are beginning to influence some of the artists. Master miniaturist, Osman relates the difference, "Meaning precedes form in the world of art. As we begin to paint in imitation of the Frankish and Venetian masters...the domain of meaning ends and the domain of form begins." Oh, for the introduction of perspective, shadows and the horizon line! Until this time figures were drawn with no relation to space, nor time. How this will change art that has always been depicted as seen through the eyes of Allah, from above, and not from a human's street level perspective, to do so is considered blasphemy. Yet, how enticing to see portraiture where none had existed before. Influences so difficult for some to resist and one is trying to halt. The world of Elegant's fellow miniaturists is especially at risk and from this select lot one of them will kill to retain the past. Just as if the reader were Istanbul, Pamuk keeps the reader on the edge till the very end and takes him through the city's dark and deserted streets to places one may not have known existed. It is a journey of murder, incredible artistry, mystery and love. Each chapter is written as if spoken directly to the reader. You are a part of the scene, you are an observer who knows what is in the hearts of each character. A touch of magical realism comes forth as artists renderings talk to you and relate their story. My Name is Red is truly an incredible piece of historical fiction that proved to be informative as well as entertaining. It's pages contained everything I look for in a great novel.
jawalter reviewed this
Rated 4/5
I know that a lot of my friends who are reading this book for a book club don't like it, but I enjoyed it very much. Pamuk uses a rotating cast of narrators to good effect, managing to convincingly postpone the solution to his murder mystery despite telling parts of the story from the perspective of the murderer and his victims.

One thing that I really liked was the book's focus on the idea of blindness, because blindness is part and parcel of being a reader. We never see anything described by the author and are forced to rely solely on our imagination and experience to transform his descriptions into images. That's especially true with this book, where so much of what happens is intricately connected to subtle visual clues in a series of paintings we never get to see.

Pamuk did tend to get a little long-winded at points, which proved to be a little frustrating at times. The problem with trying to be especially verbose in a mystery novel is that it slows down the action, and there were times in this book when the pace got positively glacial. But this is more than made up for by the depth of characterization and the insight provided into a culture about which I know little.
peajayar reviewed this
Rated 5/5
This is one of my favourite novels. The detail about how the miniaturist painters etc worked in the Sultan's court is fascinating, as is the impact of new ideas coming in from Europe. In particular, the idea that images of people could be portraits, not idealised renderings, and the problems this caused for traditionalists. There is so much to savour in this book. I have read it twice, and will no doubt read it again.
quailjulia reviewed this
Rated 4/5
This book is an elaborate murder mystery centering around a group of miniaturists working at the end of the 16th century in the Ottoman Empire. Pamuk explores the personalities of the characters in the book as well as the sensibilities of the time through this art form which later lost its popularity. Each chapter is narrated by a different character, some that are left unknown to the reader. The narration is playful and even a bit "naughty" at times, and there was one point where descriptions seemed to be drawn out. The method of shifting back and forth between the story tellers kept me entertained and I enjoyed the interplay of perspectives. The book is never gory or violent, but often dark and mysterious, and some of the incidents made me squeamish (readers will know which ones I am talking about!) despite their subtlety. I was particularly interested in the book's setting and the relationship between, the Turks, Persians and the Venetians in both an artistic and historical sense. Also, Pamuk's work weaves a number of interesting themes - religion, art, personal relationships, love and human nature which makes it a complex and interesting tale. My Name is Red is considered a classic in Turkey and is said to have aided in Pamuk get the Nobel Prize for Literature.
technodiabla reviewed this
Rated 5/5
This book is a masterpiece, and Pamuk's best. It's a 16th century murder mystery set in Istanbul. But there are several layers of other stories too: the influences of West on East, relationship of religion to art, and the effect of art on psychology and culture. To top it off, the story is told by a series of first person narrators, including inanimate objects. This first person perspective is a major source of contention in the book so the structure adds a lot. The first person narrations of death are very good as well. There were a few tedious bits-- overly long descriptions of artwork (pages) and such. For a reader not familiar with art history or not interested in art, there would be more tedium. Otherwise this would be one of my few 5 star novels. I'm giving it 4.75.
rocky_wing reviewed this
i found the form to be refreshingly unique, each chapter from a different perspective. the characters are deep, the plot is intriguing, a beautiful style of writing. a chilling description of a murder from the point of view of the one getting murdered, an unforgettable, unprecedented scene.i could have definitely gone without the loooooong descriptions of the illustrations from various books. i just got lost in the telling of the mythical tales and it really didn't add anything to the story.
kerns222 reviewed this
Rated 5/5
Some books change the way you think about the world. This one changed the way I thought about art--close enough.
enamoredsoul_1 reviewed this
Rated 5/5
It is seldom that one picks up a book that bypasses any and all genres, and comes alive in your hands and speaks to you. Such is the kind of book Orhan Pamuk has written. Part love story, part murder plot, part commentary on all things spiritual - it is a beautifully written book with a great many multi-faceted characters.Pamuk uses various different characters to narrate his book - some of the chapters even narrated by unusual characters such as the murdered corpse of Elegant Effendi, "Ink", a "Coin", Satan, two dervishes and the color "Red". It is especially the voices of these characters that become emblazoned upon your soul.The plot lies in the murder of Elegant Effendi, the reason for which is stated to be his working on an illustrated book commissioned by the Sultan. 'Black', who is in love with late Elegant's daughter Shekure, is striving hard to uncover the murderer and win widowed Shekure's hand in marriage. Also, we hear from his fellow artists/miniaturists "Butterfly", "Stork" and "Olive", with their views on the West influencing Eastern arts. Thus, Orhan Pamuk is able to masterfully entwine a mystery, a romance, and allegory to the clash of Eastern and Western culture all in one wonderful book.In his book, Pamuk writes "An artist should never succumb to hubris of any kind, he should simply paint the way he sees fit rather than troubling over East or West." - and that is precisely how Pamuk offers his progressive perspective, richly Eastern in nature, but pleasantly influenced by Western ideologies as well. He creates an amalgamation of both cultures, in which the values of each one are preserved and respected, and does it quite successfully. Olive, one of the miniaturists, offers his perspective on art as, "Through our colors, paints, art and love, we remember that Allah had commanded us to "See"!" - and that is what Orhan Pamuk so craftily presents in this book, a chance for the reader to see beyond cultures and races, similarities and differences and be completely enchanted by the mystical, lyrical and awe-inspiring realm that "My Name is Red" is, as a novel.
peppuzzo_1 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
A story about storytelling and illustrations, told by miniaturists and miniatures. I greatly liked the mechanism according to which every chapter was told, in first person, by a different character. Placed in middle-age Istanbul, based on real characters the story aims to a completely higher level of meaning.

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My Name Is Red