Senin, 06 Juni 2011

Book Review: Snow by Orhan Pamuk

Book Review: Snow by Orhan Pamuk
Snow, "kar" in Turkish, is a story about Ka, a Turkish poet who lived in exile in Germany and who has now returned to Istanbul for his mother's funeral. He took the opportunity to travel to Kars, a city northeast of Turkey on the pretext of covering the story of the numerous suicides there. In truth, he had heard that Ipek, a beautiful ex-classmate was now divorced and he hoped to make her his wife.

When he arrived, there was a snowstorm which cut the city off from the rest of the world for three days. So, in a nutshell, the plot is about Ka stranded in kar in Kars. And that's all there was to it, really.

Yes, I know, those who have read the book would tell me about the secular state's clashes with the Islamist fundamentalists, about how a group of Muslim girls would rather commit suicide than remove their head scarves, and how the army staged a theatre act but fired five rounds of live bullets into the audience, killing some while injuring others.

They would be right. We read the same book. However, my gripe is not with the plot itself. Snow had a rather unique plot, one that broke the monotony of the plethora of bestsellers by Western authors. I'd be the last person to argue that the story was interesting.

I only wished it had been written better. The story was told by an omniscient presence (the author's) who came upon Ka's notes years later and pieced them together. The 'layers' removed the reader from the story and as a result, I did not feel involved in the events taking place, nor did I feel any empathy for Ka. As a matter of fact, I felt that Ka was a drip.

If this were a movie, I would have said the wrong actor was cast in the male lead. But this is a book, so I guess it was the way the story was narrated. Orhan Pamuk could still keep Ka as the main character, but approached it differently.

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