I somehow managed to miss the news that Orhan Pamuk had a new book out. So the Guardian review of Istanbul was a delight and a surprise. It’s a memoir of Pamuk’s hometown.
Orhan Pamuk, an International IMPAC Award winner, inspires love and hostility in equal measure at home. Recently, the governor of S ordered that Pamuk’s books be collected from libraries and bookshops in his province and destroyed. Instant condemnation in the national press of this ‘barbarity’ demonstrated an enlightened majority asserting itself. The governor must have been furious when no books by Pamuk were found, for sale or burning. Subsequently, the author’s sales have soared.
It is fascinating, therefore, to uncover the boyhood and obsessions of this quiet, self-absorbed 52-year-old. The book centres around a solemn toddler trapped in the pressure cooker of his family’s squabbles. Each wing of the secular clan occupies a floor of the Fifties Pamuk Apt block overlooking the glittering Bosporus. The household is ruled from the bed of his overweight grandmother, who mourns her sons’ squandering of the family fortune, his aunts’ and uncles’ quarrels, his parents’ teetering marriage and the devotions of their Muslim servants.
You can read an excerpt here.