Pamuk’s talent for storytelling is definitely unquestionable. Well, OK, you can disagree, I don’t care.
I loved the setting; it was basically the main criteria for choosing the book (I’d probably need to mention the reader-friendly length, as well). I loved the plot (the double / the identical twin, the capacity of exchanging not only identities, but also memories, ideas and beliefs), the framing device, the (unreliable) 1st person narrative, the mind games and the twisted relationship / brutal conflict / love between Hoja and the slave and the cultural confrontation (West VS East).
I definitely loved Luminita Munteanu’s translation. She’s the exclusive translator of Pamuk’s books in Romanian and she’s done an incredibly good job, not only translating, but also offering a huge deal of Ottoman background – for My Name Is Red, at least – and explanatory footnotes. It rarely happens that I really appreciate translations, but when I read a book that sounds so naturally Romanian to me, it’s a good translation, don’t you think? Well, all those words of Turkish origin that we have in Romanian helped a lot, as well. Actually, thank goodness for all the influences Romanian has got over the years – I would never, NEVER read a Russian (or other Slavic language), Hungarian or Turkish book in English if the Romanian version was available. OK, I’m getting weird, let’s move on.
So, apparently, I liked the book; a comparison to My Name Is Red seems inevitable, hence the 3*. I’m not sure if it was the slow pace or something else, but somewhere after the middle I felt Pamuk lost me, the book was getting nowhere and I was tempted to abandon it. The reader is actually advised to do so, but I think it’s just a trick Pamuk uses in order to keep his reader curious, only to leave him with a dilemma at the end. Hmm.
So in order to feed my recent interest in Turkish culture, I think my next Pamuk will be something quite different. Something that focuses on modern Turkey / the conflict between traditional and modern, old VS new etc. And I need some films, as well; I feel Fatih Akin’s are not enough.