MY NAME IS RED – Review

The reason for picking up this novel is not that it has won the Nobel Prize for Literature nor is it the extravagant praise that has been showered on it by critics. It is something to do with the allure that Pamuk’s writings possess. Translated works have never been more enriching. The rare intrigue that typifies Pamuk is definitely not lost in translation.

‘MY NAME IS RED’ is a work of art in every sense. It narrates art and exemplifies it. The murder mystery (It is demeaning to call it that) is set in the backdrop of Ottoman Empire in the 16th century. Miniaturists, Illustrators, Illuminators and Calligraphers of that era take centrestage. The conflict between cultures, ideologies and art (Orhan’s signature style) again forms the underlying melody.

With chapters presented as first-person accounts rather than the mundane third-person, the uniqueness oozes out. The ingenuity though lies in the chapters like ‘I AM A CORPSE’, ‘I AM DEATH’, ‘I,SATAN’ and ‘I AM RED’, where the abstract and innate converse with the reader.

Since every character recalls famous ancient stories to supplement their narratives (which can get a little repetitive and confusing), it is of value to get the chronology of historical events right. An excerpt from the novel:

‘As is recorded in books and confirmed by scholars, the soul dwells in four realms: 1. the womb; 2. the terrestial world; 3. Berzah, or divine limbo, where I now await Judgement Day; and 4. Heaven or Hell, where I will arrive after the Judgement.

From the intermediate state of Berzah, past and present time appear at once, and as long as soul remains within its memories, limitations of place do not obtain. Only when one escapes the dungeons of time and space does it become evident that life is a straightjacket. However blissful it is being a soul without a body in the realm of dead, so too is being a body without soul among the living; what a pity nobody realizes it before dying. Therefore, during my lovely funeral, as I greviously watched my dear Shekure wear herself out weeping in vain, I begged of Exalted Allah to grant us souls-without-bodies in Heaven and bodies-without-souls in life.’

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~ by candidmusing on May 26, 2008.

2 Responses to “MY NAME IS RED – Review”

  1. ‘I begged of Exalted Allah to grant us souls-without-bodies in Heaven and bodies-without-souls in life’…. B E A Utiful..

  2. please read the black book!

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