10 February 2014

My Name is Red: Book Review

Title: My Name is Red

Author: Orhan Pamuk

Stars: 4/5

I have only good things to say about this book. The most unique style of writing, with the story told by multiple narrators in sets. From people to animals, from living to nonliving, from real to symbolic characters - the story develops so many dimensions and point of views, that it nourishes and intrigues you as a reader. The narrators vary from the main characters Black, Esther, Shekure, Butterfly, Stroke, Olive, Orhan, Master Osman, to a corpse, a random Dog, color Red, a painted Horse, the unknown Murderer, to Satan, or just a Woman. Most books have either a protagonist or a third party unbiased narrator of events, but here you have more narrators than characters in the book. The story flows smoothly with each narration, giving others point of view to the same events but without forcing you to take sides or form opinions.


It's a culturally rich book explaining the complex and extinct art of Miniature painting, Royal patrons, religious connotations and conditions, aspiring artists, politics of the workshop and the underlying competition and jealousy. Pamuk's writing takes you straight to the streets of ancient Istanbul and you can visualize the story unfolding in front of your eyes. You are there,  when the murder happens, when the murderer is running, when others are being questioned, when people are talking, at the secret wedding, when the masterpieces are being created. But you still can't figure who the murderer is? Pamuk holds your curiosity till the last page.


The book was deep and complex based in an unfamiliar age, genre and setting. Every time I got back to the book I had to choose a silent corner and read at least three to four pages, before its soft sensation warmed my palette. It was like drinking the warm Qahwah (Kashmiri Tea), it had to be warm and steaming to have the soothing effect you wanted.  The book too can't be read in a hurry or even warmer.


Hence, a marvelous book.. mystifying and demystifying the ancient world of Miniature art, politics, crime and religion. Some beautiful lines from the book as a food for thought. Each word tells a story.


Painting is the silence of thought and the music of sight.


Where there is true art and genuine virtuosity the artist can paint an incomparable masterpiece without leaving even a trace of his identity


For if a lovers 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 the, read what the letter tells you!" whereas the dull witted will say, "Go on the, read what he's written!"


Imperfection gives rise to what we call 'Style'.


To know is to remember that you've seen. To see is to know without remembering.


Being one of those truly jealous men who poisoned his own contentment with the thought "What if others come to know such bliss?"


To draw the picture of a horse while looking at a horse will still make the image from memory; because, you see, it is impossible, at one and the same time, to look at the horse and at the page upon which the horse's image appears.


Poetry and Painting, words and color, these things are brothers to each other.


Ibn Arabi's notion that love is the ability to make the invisible visible and the desire always to feel the invisible in one's midst.


It's not experience of subject matter that makes us masters, it's never having experienced it that makes us masters.


Once one accepts evil – and rejection in love is a significant cause for doing so – cruelty follows quickly.


Every cleric with any ambition who's met with some favor and whose head has swollen as a result will preach that religion is being ignored and disrespected. This is the most reliable way to ensure one's living.


Of course , after marriage, love itself will vanish away; but happiness fills the void.


The greatest compliment you can pay a painter is to say that his work has stimulated your own enthusiasm to illustrate.


ALIF: Painting brings to life what the mind sees, as a feast for the eyes.

LAM: What the eye sees in the world enters the painting to the degree that serves the mind.

MIM: Consequently, beauty is the eye discovering in our world what the mind already knows.


Satan's point of view – It would be more reasonable to hold me responsible, as some mullahs and preachers do, for all the children who play with themselves and everyone who farts.


Sibling Rivalry, is always provoked by an unjust father.


There are two types of people in the world: those who are cowed and crushed by their childhood beatings, forever downtrodden, because the beatings had the desired effect of killing the inner devils; and those fortunate ones for whom the beatings frightened and tamed the devil within without killing him off enable them to develop cunning.


Time doesn't flow if you don't dream...

Must Buy The Name is Red


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