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3.80  ·  Rating details ·  16,919 ratings  ·  1,644 reviews
A shimmering evocation, by turns intimate and panoramic, of one of the world’s great cities, by its foremost writer. Orhan Pamuk was born in Istanbul and still lives in the family apartment building where his mother first held him in her arms. His portrait of his city is thus also a self-portrait, refracted by memory and the melancholy–or hüzün– that all Istanbullus share: ...more
Kindle Edition, 372 pages
Published July 21st 2011 by Faber & Faber Non Fiction (first published 2003)
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Average rating 3.80  · 
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 ·  16,919 ratings  ·  1,644 reviews

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(B+) 79% | Good
Notes: An effective, inviting blend of history and memoir. Though the word "melancholy" is overused to the point of cliché.

Pamuk was already one of my favourite authors when I read his memoir of his beloved city - Istanbul - in conjunction with a family vacation there. What an amazing reading experience that was!

Imagine that old, old city, full of stories after centuries of human interaction, of cultural clashes and exchanges, of architectural wonders and wars of destruction.

And then imagine one of its most talented writers, a storyteller with the power of 1001 nights, telling the story of the city from his person
Ahmad Sharabiani
Istanbul, Hatıralar ve Şehir = Istanbul: Memories and the City, 2005, Orhan Pamuk

Istanbul: Memories and the City is a largely autobiographical memoir by Orhan Pamuk that is deeply melancholic. It talks about the vast cultural change that has rocked Turkey – the unending battle between the modern and the receding past.

It is also a eulogy to the lost joint family tradition. Most of all, it is a book about Bosphorus and Istanbul's history with the strait. It was translated into English by Maureen
It is just lucky that I happened to read Menocal's Ornament of the World just before this, as it perfectly prepared me for the psychological labyrinth that is this book. It introduced me to a beautiful, helpful image for Pamuk's creation- the "memory palaces" and "memory gardens". This is not an introduction to Istanbul, it is a memory palace worthy of the wildest child's fantasies that haunt this tapestry. Perhaps John Adams, the minimalist composer, put it best when discussing his piece On the ...more
It feels very odd to be writing this review now, sitting in a car on my way back home, feeling bored and tired for no particular reason. And out of nowhere this book- which I finished more than a month ago, and entirely gave up on ever being able to write a decent review about- comes to my mind unbidden, as though deeply connected with my present state of mind. This is going to be one of the most personal reviews I’ll ever write, but that’s merely because Istanbul: Memories and the City has aff ...more
Istanbul: Memories and the City by Orhan Pamuk (1952-) is an autobiographical memoir. He speaks of his life growing up in Istanbul in an apartment complex housing several generations of the large extended Pamuk family. He recounts events starting from the age of four. He speaks of his family, his schooling and his first love. Events are not told in chronological order. His decision to quit his architectural studies at university is where the memoir ends. Having lived all these years in Istanbul ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Along with The World's Literature group, I have been reading a lot of books set in Turkey this year. Just check out what I've covered so far!

Istanbul: Memories and the CityBlissBirds Without WingsA Conspiracy of AlchemistsThe DervishSnowThe Dervish HousePurple Citrus & Sweet Perfume: Cuisine of the Eastern Mediterranean

One of the best known Turkish authors has to be Orhan Pamuk. I've only managed to read one book of his so far, but there are many more on my to-read list to get to. I actually think reading this autobiography/memoir first will add some understanding to any of his books that I read in the future. It covers his childhood in Istanbul, up through his coll
Apr 07, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: turkey
"Notions of beauty or of the landscape of a city are inevitably intertwined with our memories."

Orhan Pamuk, Nobel laureate, wrote this 2003 memoir of growing up in Istanbul in the 50's and 60's. He senses the loss of empire in the crumbling Ottoman houses around him, describing his large modern family home as a museum where western furnishings replaced traditional Turkish culture. His grandfather was a wealthy industrialist but his father was slowly losing the family fortune. As a boy his daydre
Usman Hickmath
Major part of the book describes what some poets, journalists and painters have written or painted about Istanbul during 19th century.

But, when I picked this one up after reading My Name is Red, the expectation was to know how Pamuk describes Istanbul and his life in that city, not what some 19th century unknown travellers and century old journalists with difficult names to pronounce had to say.

There were some interesting chapters, but we do not buy a highly priced book, printed on quality pape
Jun 28, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: started
There's really no nice way to say this. One of the deservedly obscure authors he spends a chapter praising is described as being some kind of pedophile. This isn't a pretend metaphor in Lolita, this is Pamuk's loving description of a nobody. If that's not enough, his best description of Istanbul, one of the largest cities today, and, more importantly, in history, is mopery about his apartment and decaying wooden houses near it. To spend a day in the tiny English section of a large bookstore and ...more
Were Orhan Pamuk active on Twitter back when he was writing Istanbul: Memories and the City he could have saved himself and his readers a great deal of time and frustration by simply distilling this work down to "Boo fucking hoo #firstworldproblems" and leaving it at that.

Instead, we're left to slog through four hundred pages of angsty ennui which purport to represent the zeitgeist of a city that mourns the days it stood at the center of the world but in fact do little more than chronicle the th
Jun 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: orhan-pamuk
For me, a good day is a day like any other, when I have written one page well. Except for the hours I spend writing, life seems to me to be flawed, deficient, and senseless. Those who know me well understand how dependent I am on writing, tables, pens, and white paper, but they still urge me to 'take a bit of time off, do some travelling, enjoy life!' Those who know me even better understand that my greatest happiness is writing, so they tell me that nothing that keeps me far from writing, paper ...more
Pamuk adds another layer to Istanbul’s proverbial description as “the bridge between east and west” by showing how the major Istanbul modernists – poet Yahya Kemal and novelist A.H. Tanpinar, new names to me, I have to follow up – derived a poetics of post-imperial ennui and urban decay from the melancholic image of their city recorded or dreamed by travelling French writers in the nineteenth century. “[T]he roots of our hüzün [urban melancholy] are European: the concept was first explored, expr ...more
This is the second book by Pamuk that I have read. I would like to point out that it seems that this book should be read either before or after The Museum of Innocence because I found myself making it notes of where the novel and this memoir collide.

I've never been to Istanbul, but now I want to go. What Pamuk does is not only describe his family but a city as a conflict between East and West. While it is not something that my own western city feels, it is somewhat akin to the feeling that Phila
Feb 01, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was not, first of all, the book I espected it to be. It was not truly an autobiography of the author, who gave nothing at all away, at least in the context of the west (perhaps it would shock conservative Turks that he apparently had a sexual relationship with a girl as a young man, but I don't know what Turkish mores are, so I shouldn't judge) and gave away little in terms of the city that he was supposedly also biographying. It gave tantalising hints of things, and there were potential th ...more
Aug 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a duel memoir, that of the author’s first twenty years of life and that of Istanbul during the same period. Pamuk has a poet’s voice. By that, I don’t mean that he uses flowery or metaphoric language, but rather that he has the ability to conjure the abstract into palpable form: the atmosphere of a neighborhood, the bonds in a family, the mood of a people. I was surprised how much I enjoyed this book that lacked any plot or narrative tension. I must have been in just the right mood.
Hüzün does not just paralyze the inhabitants of Istanbul, it also gives them poetic license to be paralyzed.

And likewise this is a deeply moving memoir of a life lived in Istanbul. The Turkish tradition of melancholy is brought to focus by accounts of the author's life in the city and bejeweled by haunting photographs. This is winding stroll the history -- the collapse of the Ottoman era -- and through memory. Pamuk's grandfather was was quite wealthy but his two sons apparently lacked financial
Sidharth Vardhan
The sufi poets often compare their love for God to that of legendary lovers like Laila-Majnu and Heer-Ranjha for each other. This love which is just a painful longing (all those love stories are of star crossed lovers) for something worth annihilating oneself for - is called 'Huzun'. Despite its being melancholic, they still prefer having it - having an unrequited love is better than having none.

Writers, the ones I like, often have little such love for God. Some of them seem to searching for suc
Michael Finocchiaro
A beautiful memoir and nostalgic look at Istanbul, this book is very readable and poetic. It is also an autobiography of the author's childhood and the emergence of his desire to be a writer and how that is tied to his sense of melancholy. Literary references abound and helped me appreciate the uniqueness of Istanbul and its part in history. It is probably a must for the next time I get to Istanbul with the time and luxury to explore and dream like Orhan. ...more
Apr 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished
The most enchanting thing about this book is its symmetry. He opens with a statement that from a very young age he suspected that somewhere in the streets of Istanbul, there lived another Orhan so much like him that he could pass for his twin, even his double. In the last chapter, his father apparently led a double life just like in his imagination.

Pamuk manages to intermingle the story about Istanbul and himself - reflecting each other along the way. The writing style is mostly visual - his tr
Ayu Palar
Mar 09, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
About a year ago, when I was brainstorming the topic for my master’s thesis, I stumbled upon the idea of space and identity relationship. Since then, I’ve always been interested in how space and place can affect the formation of one’s self. Reading Istanbul has strengthened that particular idea. Not only describing the physical condition of Istanbul, Orhan Pamuk also wrote about his love-hate relationship with the city. Istanbul isn’t just his home; it is the city that always inspires him.

I app
Sep 15, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
English version

my first Orhan Pamuk's and not my taste at all.
It's a mixture of autobiography, history, literature and endless self pitty .

May 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dearest community dearest friends

I am a book enthusiast I like talking about them in my spare time,writing less.I am no writer. Unfortunately this site is much too btilliant and i can say almost professional , in any case for me.What can I say about the books facing you_Nothing much or very far off the mark.

This book for instance I have read , appreciate it for its quality of honesty facing the childhood in one's beloved city., The book is an image of growing up , considering the city with curio
Kyriakos Sorokkou
A few thoughts of mine, while reading this book:
İstanbul / Κωνσταντινούπολη
yalı / γιαλός
köfte / κεφτές
Karagöz and Hacivat / Καραγκιόζης και Χατζηαβάτης
puşt/ πούστης
Greek and Turkish language have many things in common.
Greeks and Turks have more things in common that differences but it's always the differences that are visible on the surface.
Pamuk's Istanbul is (as described in the book) a melancholic city, a grey city, a city caught between the west and the east, a city I wish to visit
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Istanbul by Orhan Pamuk is the right book for those who want to get close to the culture of the city through a poetic narration and an array of beautiful black and white pictures which can reveal its hidden spots and soul. Pamuk give us an evocative reading of the city. A reading which is both personal and illustrative and where melancholy plays a fundament role along with the vital energy and the will of exploring.
Mar 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-east
Before I read Orhan Pamuk's Istanbul several of my friends told me how much fun they had visiting the city with its historical palaces and fabulous mosques. I wanted to visit the street markets and the seasides. I've read enough history about Byzantium and the Ottomans to whet my interest in the ruins of empires gone by.

But Pamuk has painted such a grim, dirty, and poor city that it left me wondering if my friends visited the same town. Dirt and crumbling mansions. Crashing pollution. Fires. Hob
A book that makes me want to visit Istanbul just to walk around and see the sights that Pamuk describes and develops in this book. Reading his prose is an experience of “painterly” writing, where you cannot help but have a vivid image in your head of the surroundings and atmosphere conjured up with the words. But it is also a portrait of a sensitive young boy coming of age in a place and time where the borders between worlds are unpredictable. Not only are the Western and Eastern worlds in confl ...more
Sep 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sad melancholy. Nostalgic melancholy. Angry melancholy. Evil melancholy. Delicious melancholy. Artistic melancholy. The melancholy of tantalizing mirage of a great city. By the end, you would have experienced every shade of melancholy, which would engulf you and consume you, with a painful feeling of so destined to lose in life and in love, a poetic confusion, a nothingness.
Jacob Overmark
I first met Pamuk in "The Black Book" many moons ago.

From the way he described his Istanbul neighborhood I instantly knew he would be a keeper.

Memories and the city is offering you a trip down a lot of Istanbul´s memory lanes, some long forgotten and only kept alive in literature and paintings and some brought to life through Pamuk´s childhood memories.

There are a lot of photos in my edition and though a paperback edition does not offer the same visual satisfaction as a coffee table edition it a
Oct 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

(Sorry for the English.. This was originally written for the book discussion here )

This is a very rich book.. Rich in emotions, sadness, life, even references!
It takes you deep into the streets of Istanbul, the real Istanbul, not tourist's Istanbul.. It will make you fall in love with Bosphorus, and feel the great attachment of the people of Istanbul to it.. Like it's somehow the main pillar or their very own existence.. I really understood this "dependence" feeling that author was talking a
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Orhan Pamuk was born in Istanbul in 1952 and grew up in a large family similar to those which he describes in his novels Cevdet Bey and His Sons and The Black Book, in the wealthy westernised district of Nisantasi. As he writes in his autobiographical book Istanbul, from his childhood until the age of 22 he devoted himself largely to painting and dreamed of becoming an artist. After graduating fro ...more

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