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«Snow» by Orhan Pamuk, the owner of the Nobel prize in literature (2006)

I've just managed to finish the first book of reading for this year: "Snow" by Orhan Pamuk.

While waiting for my plane at airports, I prefer killing my time in bookstores and this time it happened that I was skimming through the books at one of Istanbul Ataturk Airport's bookstores. During the "screening" of books I recalled that couple years ago now famous Turkish writer won the Nobel prize in literature (2006) and decided to find anything from him. First, I had asked the cashier about Turkish writer who won the Nobel prize and so on and he, to my surprise, shamefully didn't know the Turkish hero in literature at all. I barely stopped myself asking him the question "How often the Turkish writers win the Nobel prize in literature???". Ok, I felt certain that there should be some of his novels in this fancy bookstore and started to search anything from this Turkish writer in english. I couldn't locate him and his novels on the shelves at all and I was leaving the bookstore regretting not to find him here when the young consultant turkish girl stopped me and asked of "did I find everything from their bookstore?" I don't know why I didn't asked her before, but I instantly mentioned him, the Turkish writer who won the Nobel prize in literature, and afterwords in a matter of couple seconds she with so much easiness found the whole collection of his novels and described each of them in details. The consultant girl said that the because of the novel "Snow" Orhan Pamuk won the Nobel prize in literature, while describing the decent list of other his novels. But, later on I was not fortunate to find the proof of her words on the novel's possible direct connection to the Nobel prize of Orhan Pamuk.

Anyway, in first 10 days of 2013, I read the whole novel, which consists of 436 pages. The original language of the novel is in Turkish, but your friend, Baha, can read only in three languages and I chose the english version of the novel even admitting the fact that there might be imperfection of novel's reading charm during the translation of the book. Luckily, I've found the english translation of the novel by Maureen Freely as a flawless work of Maureen, who could deliver the "Turkishness" of the narrative and the story of "Snow". Of course, I am not the ideal reader of english scripts either, 'cause I still practice of learning new words in any english literature I had chance to read.

So, I picked the frequent words that I didn't know before, but consequently learned the meaning of the words from the context of the paragraphs. Some of them new to me, but some are old ones that became new :)
The below are appropriate descriptions of the words (from New Oxford American Dictionary):
1. "Freed" - the past simple form of the word "free";
2. "Gleam" - shine brightly;
3. "Rampage" - a period of violent and uncontrollable behavior, typically involving a large group of people;
4. "Fathom" - understand (a difficult problem or an enigmatic person) after much thought;
5. "Riddle" - a question or statement intentionally phrased so as to require ingenuity in ascertaining its answer or meaning, typically presented as a game (this one actually is often used in the Hobbit of Tolkien);
6. "Vengeance" - punishment inflicted or retribution exacted for an injury or wrong;
7. "Faint" - (of a sight, smell, or sound) barely perceptible;
8. "Cry" - another meaning: say something in an excited or anguished tone of voice (too frequent inserted in the "Snow")

Now when I am done with the new words and want to write a bit of the story itself.

At the beginning the story starts as if the main hero, his name is "Ka", describes his own experience of three days journey to one of the remote and poor communities in Turkey - "Kars". This town/city is relatively poor community with high rates of unemployment including jobless youth, with limited entertaining opportunities and too many tea-houses (analogues of coffee shops, where I've spent about one fifth of my time for the last two years :D ). Ka is a political exile of Turkish state and for the last twelve years he permanently lives in Frankfurt, Germany. Occasionally, he makes visits to Istanbul to see his friends/colleagues from the school. Ka is a poet and most of his friends work in the field of literature, poetry and journalism. So, when the friend at “Republican” – Istanbul’s authoritative newspaper, offers him a freelance work in Kars to observe coming municipal elections and to learn more about extremely high rates of suicides among young girls of Kars, he eagerly accepts the offer. Besides his official reason to go to Kars, Ka had a personal reason to visit and that was the beautiful woman from his school years, who now lives in Kars. He recalled that the beautiful woman, Ipek, had recently divorced and now she is on her own. The fact that Ipek is divorced glimpsed in his mind and he hopes for the opportunity of hypothetical romance with Ipek.

The coming municipal elections are now important matter of Turkish state, because of rise of new political party - the Prosperity Party, the official body of “political” Islam in Kars. State authorities are now concerned with high suicidal rates among young girls in Kars, possibly connecting the suicides with the popularization of radically oriented “political” Islam among poor population of Kars. The adventure of our hero in Kars, Ka, is presented as of intertwined stories such as remembering his childhood memories, comparing the life and society of Frankfurt to Kars and seeing the clash of alternative ideology to the official one of Turkish state. Obviously, the poet Ka has a heartbreak for Ipek and he suffers a lot to attract her attention with attempt to fullfill his eventual goal of Kars’ visit: take Ipek with himself to Frankfurt and live happily there with her.

The last four years in Frankfurt were not much productive for Ka in terms of poetry because he felt the constant unhappiness in his life and soul in Frankfurt. The refreshing trip to Kars brought him new inspirations and a great deal of mixed impressions, which resulted in prolific poetry for him. Now in Kars, he starts to feel the happiness in his life due to the new romance with Ipek and the contrasts of opinions in Kars’ citizens. The story has many characters and each of them represent the solid background of problems that pertains to modern Turkey.

Eventually, Ka leaves Kars alone in the train and afterwards never comes back to the city/town. After four years of post-Kars he is found to be shot in one of his neighboring streets of Frankfurt. The assasins were not identified even by highly effective german policemen. In Ka’s neighborhood, there are many rumours of who ordered the shooting of Ka, but none of rumours appears to be proven. After forty days of the death of Ka, Orhan Pamuk, the author of this book, visits Frankfurt to know more of the death of his friend, Ka. Orhan tries to find Ka’s belongings in the apartment, but unfortunately, Orhan couldn’t locate the main thing of Ka’s visit to Kars – the green notebook with all poems written in Kars. Nevertheless, Orhan collects all Ka’s drafts and takes them with him to Kars to repeat Ka’s journey for potential findings of Ka’s work. At the end, Orhan writes this novel, “Snow”, as of recalling Ka’s experience with Kars and describing of what happened once Ka leaves the city/town.

By the way, I forgot to mention of Ka’s passion to see snows and snowflakes in his poems. Throughout the story, Ka thinks of winter and snows a plenty of times and it will be embedded in almost every chapter of this novel. Orhan presents Ka’s vision of snowflake image that presents the names of the poems attached on main three axes of snowflakes. The three axes are titled as imagination, logic and memory, which I find them rationally divided and it perfectly presents Ka’s attempts to understand the whole concept of worldview in terms of religion, philosophy and ideology.

At last, I was moved with Orhan Pamuk’s work on “Snow” and later on, I think to read more of his works.

Thanks for your attention!

12 января 2013, 1:05



интересный пост))

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