Book Review: This is the first time ever I am writing a book review and so I am bit unsure on how to write, nevertheless that does not stop me from voicing my thought.
The book I am suggesting is the one which I have read recently, Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk’s My Name is Red. Books demanding slow reading and yet providing delight are so rare, and Pamuk just provides that elusive mix in his book. Set up in the Turkey, My name is Red is about the life of miniaturists under the Ottoman Empire (I hate reviews talking about the story, so no more of that).
The style of writing is completely in the first person narrative. Each of the character makes several timely interventions in the story and then unfolds the flow of events from his perspective. Such a build up provide a greater insight to nuances and shades of the characters and helps to build a stronger connect with them. I believe this way of writing must be difficult to master.
The choice of the titles for each chapter are so simple but glamorous, for instance the first chapter has a title ‘I am a corpse’ and later there is a chapter titled ‘I will be called a murderer’ and then there are chapters for each of the characters like, ‘I, Shekure’, ‘I am called olive’,’ I am called butterfly’, ‘I am esther’, ‘It is I, Master Osman’ etc. (Perhaps, now you can guess what the story is about). Each character whenever visits the story, it does so under the chapter with the same title. With each chapter the protagonist changes and even after reading the book it is impossible to name one protagonist.
For me the real test of the book is not the story but the language used to convey the story. The choice of words, the idioms or the analogies seems perfect, to an extent which makes them indispensable and non- substitutable. In fact the idea conveyed and the language used seemed to me like a blissful marriage.
- “I don’t want to be a tree; I want to be its meaning.”
- “For if a lover’s face survives emblazoned on your heart, the world is still your home.”
- “A letter doesn’t communicate by words alone. A letter, just like a book, can be read by smelling it, touching it and fondling it. Thereby, intelligent folk will say, ‘Go on then, read what the letter tells you!’ whereas the dull-witted will say, ‘Go on then, read what he’s written!”
And read this beautiful idea
- “I hear the question upon your lips: What is it to be a colour?
Colour is the touch of the eye, music to the deaf, a word out of the darkness. Because I’ve listened to souls whispering – like the susurrus of the wind – from book to book and object to object for tens or thousands of years, allow me to say that my touch resembles the touch of angels. Part of me, the serious half, calls out to your vision while the mirthful half sours through the air with your glances.
I’m so fortunate to be red! I’m fiery. I’m strong. I know men take notice of me and that I cannot be resisted.”
To conclude, I will say that Pamuk has enmeshed the story and the characters and the language beautifully. This book is meant for the sheer enjoyment of language and to experience the art of narrating a story.