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A Strangeness in My Mind

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  13,552 ratings  ·  1,536 reviews
From the Nobel Prize winner and best-selling author of Snow and My Name Is Red: a soaring, panoramic new novel—his first since The Museum of Innocence—telling the unforgettable tale of an Istanbul street vendor and the love of his life.

Since his boyhood in a poor village in Central Anatolia, Mevlut Karataş has fantasized about what his life would become. Not getting as f
Hardcover, 624 pages
Published October 20th 2015 by Knopf (first published December 12th 2014)
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Popular Answered Questions
Katie I understand your question correctly, I would say definitely.
There are quite a few parts about the status and treatment of the Kurds, for example. Th…more
I understand your question correctly, I would say definitely.
There are quite a few parts about the status and treatment of the Kurds, for example. There are also examples of the government's power to act as it wants and make seemingly arbitrary decisions (the use of martial law, bulldozing whole hillsides of homes to build the new highway, accepting or not accepting certain documents, etc). Much of the book is about the informal economy and how migrants survive on the margins of Istanbul.
Which specific historical events were you thinking of? (less)
Јуро Дива Boza in Belgrade.
"Бистар као боза." ;-)…more
Boza in Belgrade.
"Бистар као боза." ;-)(less)

Community Reviews

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Elyse Walters
Feb 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The Museum of Innocence", by Orhan Pamuk, was one of the most nail biting intense
stories of a wealthy man's obsession for a shopgirl in Istanbul I had ever read....
One hell of an amazing 600 page novel!!! Magnificent!

"A Strangeness in my Mind".... is also magnificent- brilliant - deliciously enjoyable. I lost myself through the eyes of Pamuks's protagonist seeking balance between the past and the present.

The story begins when an elopement goes wrong for Mevlut, a street vendor, living in Ist
Jun 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well, after three weeks of reading I finally finished Orhan Pamuk’s latest novel “Kafamda Bir Tuhaflık”, probably the best book I have read so far in this year. Not only that the novel is, in Pamuk’s recognizable way, a rather thick volume, reading it also coincided with general renovation of my flat (btw, great way to spend summer), so I had a very little time to dedicate to the book. Nonetheless, I kept going and found out that reading of this novel not just fulfilled me in the way that good b ...more
There is something rather old-fashioned but charming about this sprawling, languorous family story set in Istanbul over 40+ years. The central character Mevlut is a poor street trader who supplements various day jobs by spending his evenings selling boza (a traditional slightly alcoholic drink) on the streets. This represents something of a departure for Pamuk whose previous books have been set among the city's richer elite. This one also allows more space to its female characters.

The first two
Mark (halfway through 4 weeks holiday - so a bit quiet) Porton
A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk is an audiobook I devoured after reading GR buddy, Anne’s, wonderful review. She loved it and so do I. It’s a long one – clocking in at over 25 hours, so I’ve been pretty much living in Istanbul for the past couple of weeks selling and drinking Boza and spending time with the lovely Mevlut. This one is well worth it.

First up, I hope I don’t I get some details too wrong as it’s so hard to stop and take notes when reading such an audiobook – when I say ‘stop
T.D. Whittle
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
"I can only meditate when I am walking. When I stop, I cease to think; my mind works only with my legs." Jean-Jacques Rousseau
"I will sell boza until the day the world ends." Mevlut Karatas (p. 584)
This book is long and meandering, its power like that of a fire built slowly from a bit of kindling and a single spark. From the beginning, it is carefully tended and coaxed along in a quiet but steady fashion until Whoosh!, it ignites in full glory.

A Strangeness in My Mind did not particularly grab
Oct 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is such a cliche to say that I 'got lost in the story' but if any novel should get this pronouncement from me, this is it. As always, Pamuk writes with a beauty and love for his native Istanbul; yet he is not one to show the city through a rose-tinted lens. The same goes for the people he potrays. Stylistically, the ever increasing build up of detail creates a set of characters and a sense of place that you, the reader, come to know intimately. Not only are you welcomed in to this world (whic ...more
Anne (On semi-hiatus)
“In a city, you can be alone in a crowd, and in fact what makes the city a city is that it lets you hide the strangeness in your mind inside its teeming multitudes.”

A Strangeness in my Mind is a charming story about the political, cultural and societal changes that take place in Istanbul from the perspective of a poor street vendor between the years 1969 -2012. The story slowly meanders through our protagonist's life just as he, Mevlut, meanders through the streets of Istanbul at night selling
Among my started-but-not-finished books, this now squats like Larkin's "toad, work" and I think it's time to declare it abandoned, at 61%. It's not bad, I don't 100% rule out returning to it, but this self-imposed obligation needs to be sacked off in favour of more enticing reads. Faster readers, and those more in the habit of reading 600pp+ novels, seem unlikely to find this an issue, especially when one considers the high 4.06 average Goodreads rating.

Mevlut the Boza Seller - as I've no idea w
Elyse Walters
Jul 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I do have a review on this book somewhere in the site and it keeps getting lost — I found it once but I don’t know where it is again—-
so thank you for those of you who have liked my review today and I only thought of it because my friend, Anne is reading it.

I still remember so many details about it and I read it when it first came out. It’s a wonderful book!!

Kyriakos Sorokkou
As always Pamuk never disappoints.
Another incredible book by Turkish Nobel Prize Winner (2006) Orhan Pamuk.
My 5th book by Pamuk.
My 4th novel by him since I read his Memoirs from Istanbul a non fiction book, part memoir part biography of his beautiful birthplace.

This novel like most of Pamuk's novels, takes place in Istanbul; this time between 1969-2012. It tells us the (simple) story of a simple man from Central Anatolia called Mevlut Karataş that came to Istanbul with his father in 1969 to beco
Jul 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
Pamuk takes his time with Mevlut's story, unspooling it slowly over 584 pages. Surprisingly, I did not become impatient but savored the joys and tribulations of Mevlut's life. Caught between the old and the new in Istanbul in the 1990s and early 2000s, Mevlut is not outwardly successful compared to his friends - yet he finds happiness in marriage and as a boza seller. Working in a succession of jobs, he arranges them around selling boza (a fermented beverage) in the evenings, wandering the stree ...more
Irmak Ertuna-howison
some say a bourgeois cannot write about the poor & poverty. i say you don't know literature. ...more
Usman Hickmath
Oct 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant work from Pamuk. He has told the story of a street vendor taking almost 600 pages while maintaining the readability and have discussed issues such as poverty, struggle of middle class women, illegal construction, and Capitalist, Marxist and Islamist divide in the backdrop of a fallen empire. Have a look at this piece to understand the universality of issues elaborated in the novel.

The enterprising individual who built a house on an empty lot would plant a few poplars and willow trees a
It has been awhile since I fell in love, I mean really fallen in love. Reading this was like reading 1Q84 or Wise Children or even Harry Potter for the first time. Every single colour and flavour suddenly springs up through your brain chemistry. All the usual cliches I empathized and adored every single character, I wish it was another 500 pages, I was sad (and to be honest a bit more than a tad hung over) closing the final page. How can even attempt to move on to another book. For ten minutes I ...more
Inderjit Sanghera
A wonderful eulogy to life, love and Istanbul, "A Strangeness in My Mind" captures an ever-evolving Istanbul through the eyes of the Mevlut, from his arrival in the late 60's to the modern days. Through the eyes of Mevlut, Istanbul grows exponentially, gorging itself on the lives and dreams of its residents, bloated and bilious, irascible yet whimsical and wondrous, Mevlut charts the metamorphoses of Istanbul, from a city filled with the febrile hopes of Turkish nationalism, to a city which synt ...more
Anna Baillie-Karas
The story of Mevlut, a boza-seller, and his family.

I love Orhan Pamuk's honesty and his curious, loving explorations of Istanbul. He infuses the melancholy of the city into his writing, chronicles the changes - (too) much detail of construction and houses - and describes family dynamics with great care & intricate sentences.

I found this one too slow & less beautifully written than his earlier work (but it's a high bar). I wonder if some of this comes down to the translation.

I became tired of
Book Riot Community
Here's a magnificent big novel to curl up with this winter! Mevlut Karataş sells boza (a traditional mildly alcoholic Turkish drink) in Istanbul, but he longs for love and riches. But Mevlut doesn't have the best of luck (there's the incident where he falls in love with a woman but accidentally elopes with her sister, for starters) and as middle age approaches, he seeks to find what he feels is missing from his life. A modern love story and a beautiful look at Istanbul, this might be Pamuk's fin ...more
Hey Bozaci, is your boza sweet or bitter?

Boza, a drink from the Ottoman Turk era made with fermented chick peas (or corn or wheat) with cinnamon. Sold on the streets by a vendor known as a bozaci. On his shoulders he suspends a long pole with a basket on each side, walking through the streets at night selling his wares.

Istanbul. That great city that sits on the Bosporus. The bridge between Europe. and Asia. This is the tale of its recent history and of the boza vendor.

Mevlut Éfendi Karatas sold
Dec 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Orhan Pamuk, the winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature, is Turkey's best-selling writer and first Nobel Laureate, but he is more than a talented Turkish writer. He is an international treasure with books translated into sixty languages. Already established as a a major writer with his brilliant novels My Name is Red and Snow, he has produced in A Strangeness in My Mind a masterpiece that is both a Bildungsroman of Mevlut the street vendor of boza in Istanbul and a Bildungsroman of the mod ...more
Sophie Cayeux
Sep 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Review on
A Gem. Brilliant. I couldn’t put it down. Pamuk never disappoints me – and once more he hasn’t. Through the daily life of ordinary characters, the author has the amazing talent of describing the social and political history of Turkey and how the city of Istanbul has changed during the twentieth century. He endears us to his characters, migrants from villages, who seek their fortune in Istanbul – a theme that remains contemporary. His depiction of
Aug 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Its the first time that I have read one of Pamuk's books n There's no character named Orhan in it ! A must read! Simply terrifically introspective and innocent and clever simultaneously. ...more
Jonathan Pool
Oct 04, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: international
I hadn’t read Orhan Pamuk before and took up "Strangeness" in advance of hearing the author speak for the launch of his latest novel Nights of Plague in September 2022. I had a preconception that the prose style and the content would be dense and difficult. How wrong I was. Strangeness is very accessible, very gentle. It is a universal story of struggle in the face of adversity, ill fortune, and challenges in a sometimes harsh world.

The central protagonist is Mevlut Karatas, and his story is a
Paul Fulcher
From the title page, Orhan Pamuk makes his (apparent) intentions clear - a David Copperfield style Dickensian saga :

"Being the Adventures and Dreams of Mevlut Karataş, a Seller of Boza, and of His Friends, and Also a Portrait of Life in Istanbul Between 1969 and 2012 from Many Different Points of View"

Pamuk's title is taken from Wordsworth's poem, The Prelude

"I had melancholy thoughts ...
a strangeness in my mind,
A feeling that I was not for that hour,
Nor for that place."

The book starts in the m
Mark Joyce
Jun 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant. Simultaneously epic and whatever the antonym of epic is - parochial, humble, small (if you can call a book of nearly 700 pages small). Everybody in the sprawling cast of characters is believable and sympathetically rendered, for all their many flaws. The book features bad decisions, self-defeating behaviours and betrayals galore but no pantomime villains. On one level this is a story of Istanbul through a period of enormous growth and political/cultural upheaval from the late 1960s to ...more
Sidharth Vardhan
I have been used to be expecting far, far better from Pamuk and, apparently, he put in a lot of effort into this one. Istanbul is his favorite topic - his memoir was also a very good introduction to the life in the city. This love shows here as well. There are a variety of perspectives you see Istanbul from - that of migrants, conservatives, communists, street paddlers, cart owners, electricity department employees, waiters, those doing their necessary millitary time, house maids,taxi drivers, s ...more
Josh Caporale
Apr 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Glenn Russell, who is an avid Goodreads reviewer, takes a great amount of consideration into the intent and the work that an author puts into their work when putting together a five-star review, which is why these are the only kind of reviews he puts together. The fact that Pamuk put six years into this project shows a heavy amount of commitment in what is something spectacular, but most importantly something that turned out to be a great experience.

Mevlut is our central character in this work o
Nan Williams
Dec 19, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: no-more
Does this story ever go anywhere? It's supposed to cover 50 years in the building or re-building of Istanbul. Maybe it eventually gets somewhere, but 1/3 of the book was enough for me. Nothing happened in the first 1/3 except the same things over and over and over. Yes, our protagonist got older, but not wiser (maybe he gains wisdom in the last third). He sells boza (a drink) and yogurt on the streets at night - first with his father and then independently of his father. He is enrolled in a stat ...more
Popy Tobing
Mar 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Pamuk describes the overall lives of Turkey's family system. How you should get married, how you should treat the wife, the husband or the kid. It's pretty much depressing knowing how small the voice of the women. How come you got married at the age of 16, then having 2 kids and have another one at the age of 30 and being called embarrasing? I like the different point of views given in the book, yet so many names to remember. ...more
Rositsa Zlatilova
Mar 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: a-must
“These people’s happiness pleased Mevlut. Human beings were made to be happy, honest and open. He saw all this warmth in the orange light from the living room. He poured five kilos of his best boza...”

Orhan Pamuk said that A Strangeness in My Mind is a novel that allows a working-class character to speak for himself. Classic novels, he added, either portray the middle and upper classes exclusively, or show peasants through the eyes of the middle class.

In A Strangeness in My Mind, Pamuk inste
Moon Rose
The mind is an intricate bottomless abyss of the formless, as infinite as the vast turquoise sky from an onlooker staring from below and as dark and as fathomless as the undiscovered realm of the Universe seen from the transient world. It is like an impenetrable fortress made of unbreakable steel where all the mysteries and secrets are hidden like a treasure trove buried underneath never meant to be found, with a sacred map veiled in a language written in an indecipherable calligraphy that is ye ...more
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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

Articles featuring this book

Ever-changing Istanbul stars in A Strangeness in My Mind, as a boza seller observes the city over four decades while searching his own heart for love.
24 likes · 8 comments
“In a city, you can be alone in a crowd, and in fact what makes the city a city is that it lets you hide the strangeness in your mind inside its teeming multitudes.” 49 likes
“But I think it must be easier for a girl to marry someone she doesn’t know, because the more you get to know men, the harder it is to love them.” 37 likes
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