I don’t normally write book reviews - I merely shove the books I like to people; forcing them to read em too. So here goes a first. A very short first.
I suppose I should state the bias before I press further - I personally like the writing and the story very much. Especially the snow bit. It’s the first Pamuk I tried (though I have had 2 of his others for ages collecting dust) and the style is nice. The book is, as usual, a translation from his Turkish one. And it’s part of the Revolutionary Series.
The background is Kars: a small town where gossips spread fast in coffee-shops and the entertainment is soap dramas and touring troupes. A Turkey downsized to a town - with clashes between the Islamists, the secularist, military and confusing others.
The protagonist is Ka: a poet who came posing as a journalist to investigate the town’s two issues - the murder of the mayor and the suicides. He’s believable as a person, I suppose that is why I increasingly like him as the story evolves. And why he at times reminds me of a friend. Or maybe I like him because he’s a poet - though the poems are never revealed in the story itself.
Ka went for interview rounds, fell in love with the friend from his past, wrote poems after a long drought of them, got involved with the messy political clashes, found friends and lost them, found love and risked losing it - with the background of a staged coup.
The thing that baffles me still when I close the last page is how Ka came at first posing as a journalist and as the story develops he was simply a poet - I don’t see the point of it. It is as if the journalist bit is a hasty addition to start the book. Maybe I missed the point.
It’s a historical fiction thus it does what fictions do, especially in terms of the characters portrayed, but it is a nice introduction to the undercurrent conflicts in a fresh post-Ottoman Turkey.
Read it for Pamuk’s writing. And the soothing description of the falling snow. It might surprisingly make you long for winter.
This review is written by Alia Salleh, another of the Friends of the Buku Project. She is now a third year engineering student at the University of Warwick and enjoys baking, and snapping pictures.