Friday, 5 October 2012

My Name is Red - Orhan Pamuk

Date of Reading: 18/03/2008
Author: Orhan Pamuk
Publisher: Vintage
Place: USA
Year: 2002
           Excepting 'Snow' , this is my favourite novel of Pamuk. The style is unique as expected of Pamuk, giving us the views of each character (even that of the murderer which contains the clues of guessing him) and  without knowing we are transported to the splendour and religious intrigue of sixteenth century Istanbul.
          Throughout the book the narration is in first person with chapter headings like 'I am a Corpse', 'I am Called Black', 'I am a Dog' etc. The beginning chapters could be a bit confusing, but once you get the hang of it, nothing will stop you from reading this splendid work. An author is in a sense a preserver, and Pamuk does pickle up Istanbul's treasured past and memories.
         Story begins with the speech of a corpse who introduces himself as Elegant Effendi, a miniaturist whose body decays at the bottom of a well. He requests to find his  murderer and bury his body.
         Black Effendi, the protagonist, returns to Istanbul after twelve years on the request of his uncle Enishte Effendi, to complete the book of pictures he is working on. Black has fallen in love with his uncle's beautiful daughter Shekure and in a way this has caused his exile at the age of 24. Shekure later marries a soldier but nothing is heard of him these four years. Her brother-in-law has an eye on Shekure and so she is living in her father's house along with her two sons -- Shevket and Orhan.
         On this return Black is determined to marry Shekure, but his uncle has other concerns. Sultan had commissioned him to prepare a great book of pictures celebrating the glories of his realm, in Frank (European) style. As figurative art can be deemed an affront to Islam, this is a delicate task; Islam allows to portray a picture as Allah sees it to be.
          Murder of Elegant has increased the complications. Enishte is confident that one of the master miniaturists -- Butterfly, Stork, Olive -- is the real culprit. Task is now handed over to Black. Later Enishte also gets murdered. As it may force Shekure to return to her husband's family, they conceal the death until she procures a divorce and marry Black. After that the death is announced as a normal one. Black confesses everything to Sultan's treasurer and Sultan allows him three days to find the murderer.
         Master Osman, the head miniaturist identifies the picture of a horse found from the body of Elegant as Olive's. Olive tries to escape to Hindustan but on the way Hasan mistakes him as a friend of Black's and kills him. After 24 years of contented married life, Black passes away and his widow hands over the details to Orhan for his book.


  1. The book looks tantalizing and your description is quite good. Will try it out sometime.
    Thanks and keep posting :)



  2. Have always been interesting in this book, but not got round to reading it yet!

    1. You will like it, the old Turkey is something unforgettable.

  3. read it, but it was a tough read!

  4. can you tell me, why it is entitled my name is red? please reply on this email


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