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My Name Is Red

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At once a fiendishly devious mystery, a beguiling love story, and a brilliant symposium on the power of art, My Name Is Red is a transporting tale set amid the splendor and religious intrigue of sixteenth-century Istanbul, from one of the most prominent contemporary Turkish writers.

The Sultan has commissioned a cadre of the most acclaimed artists in the land to create a great book celebrating the glories of his realm. Their task: to illuminate the work in the European style. But because figurative art can be deemed an affront to Islam, this commission is a dangerous proposition indeed. The ruling elite therefore mustn’t know the full scope or nature of the project, and panic erupts when one of the chosen miniaturists disappears. The only clue to the mystery–or crime? –lies in the half-finished illuminations themselves. Part fantasy and part philosophical puzzle, My Name is Red is a kaleidoscopic journey to the intersection of art, religion, love, sex and power.

417 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1998

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About the author

Orhan Pamuk

114 books9,432 followers
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 from the secular American Robert College in Istanbul, he studied architecture at Istanbul Technical University for three years, but abandoned the course when he gave up his ambition to become an architect and artist. He went on to graduate in journalism from Istanbul University, but never worked as a journalist. At the age of 23 Pamuk decided to become a novelist, and giving up everything else retreated into his flat and began to write.

His first novel Cevdet Bey and His Sons was published seven years later in 1982. The novel is the story of three generations of a wealthy Istanbul family living in Nisantasi, Pamuk's own home district. The novel was awarded both the Orhan Kemal and Milliyet literary prizes. The following year Pamuk published his novel The Silent House, which in French translation won the 1991 Prix de la découverte européene. The White Castle (1985) about the frictions and friendship between a Venetian slave and an Ottoman scholar was published in English and many other languages from 1990 onwards, bringing Pamuk his first international fame. The same year Pamuk went to America, where he was a visiting scholar at Columbia University in New York from 1985 to 1988. It was there that he wrote most of his novel The Black Book, in which the streets, past, chemistry and texture of Istanbul are described through the story of a lawyer seeking his missing wife. This novel was published in Turkey in 1990, and the French translation won the Prix France Culture. The Black Book enlarged Pamuk's fame both in Turkey and internationally as an author at once popular and experimental, and able to write about past and present with the same intensity. In 1991 Pamuk's daughter Rüya was born. That year saw the production of a film Hidden Face, whose script by Pamuk was based on a one-page story in The Black Book.

His novel The New Life, about young university students influenced by a mysterious book, was published in Turkey in 1994 and became one of the most widely read books in Turkish literature. My Name Is Red, about Ottoman and Persian artists and their ways of seeing and portraying the non-western world, told through a love story and family story, was published in 1998. This novel won the French Prix du meilleur livre étranger, the Italian Grinzane Cavour (2002) and the International IMPAC Dublin literary award (2003). From the mid-1990s Pamuk took a critical stance towards the Turkish state in articles about human rights and freedom of thought, although he took little interest in politics. Snow, which he describes as “my first and last political novel” was published in 2002. In this book set in the small city of Kars in northeastern Turkey he experimented with a new type of “political novel”, telling the story of violence and tension between political Islamists, soldiers, secularists, and Kurdish and Turkish nationalists. Snow was selected as one of the best 100 books of 2004 by The New York Times. In 1999 a selection of his articles on literature and culture written for newspapers and magazines in Turkey and abroad, together with a selection of writings from his private notebooks, was published under the title Other Colours. Pamuk's most recent book, Istanbul, is a poetical work that is hard to classify, combining the author's early memoirs up to the age of 22, and an essay about the city of Istanbul, illustrated with photographs from his own album, and pictures by western painters and Turkish photographers.

He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2006.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 5,039 reviews
Profile Image for Jim Fonseca.
1,100 reviews7,194 followers
May 9, 2019
This book is as much about art as it is a historical novel.

First the novel. A tale of miniaturist painters in Istanbul during the late 1500’s. The deceased master’s daughter is in a religious and political limbo: her soldier husband has been missing for four years, but with no body and no witnesses to his death, she can’t get a divorce and move on with her life. She wants to find a new husband and a father for her two young boys and get away from the amorous intentions of her husband’s brother. And there's a murder mystery.

Enter a man called Black, an administrator of sorts who has returned to town after twelve years in distant lands. He still carries a torch for the beautiful widow from his days as a youth. Can he find her father’s killer, keep the brother-in-law at bay, help her get a legal divorce, and win her hand in marriage? Along the way we have blended into the text what are really mini-essays about horses; dogs in the Koran: what it’s like to be a murderer; Satan; the path of a counterfeit coin, etc.

At least half of this lengthy work is about art. (I say lengthy because the 500-page paperback I read was tiny type, so this is a 700- or 800- page book in normal font.) Miniaturist painting was imported into the Ottoman Empire from Persia. Most of the painting was done as pictures in books and to illustrate the borders of pages of books, accompanied by elaborate calligraphy. (Think of the Irish monks’ manuscripts such as the Book of Kells.)

Ottoman miniaturist painting was highly stylized. Pictures were drawn from the viewpoint of Allah, from the top of a minaret, and did not use what the West thinks of as true perspective. Armies lined up symmetrically in battle scenes; horses always had the same foreleg raised; a finger placed in a mouth always represented surprise. In accordance with religious concerns about idolatry, faces were generic, not individualized. Who would dare place an identifiable individual at the center of a painting? Man can copy; only Allah can create. The painter tried to portray the ideal horse or chair as Allah created it (think Plato’s “ideal chair”), not the individual variant before them. Is individuality expressed by a traditional miniaturist painter “style” or a “flaw?” Does it offend God?


Compare all this to the European masters at the time such as da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael (the Turks called them “the Venetians”). So a lot of the book is about East meets West in the art world. All in all, an excellent book from the Nobel Prize-winning Pamuk. The story kept my interest and I enjoyed learning about Ottoman art, even when the sections where the miniaturists talked about the philosophy behind painting got repetitive at times.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews26 followers
July 27, 2021
Benim Adım Kırmızı = My Name is Red, Orhan Pamuk

My Name Is Red is a 1998 Turkish novel by writer Orhan Pamuk translated into English by Erdağ Göknar in 2001.

Pamuk would later receive the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature. The novel, concerning miniaturists in the Ottoman Empire of 1591, established Pamuk's international reputation and contributed to his Nobel Prize. The influences of Joyce, Kafka, Mann, Nabokov and Proust and above all Eco can be seen in Pamuk's work.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز هشتم ماه آگوست سال 2010میلادی

عنوان: نام من سرخ؛ نویسنده اورهان پاموک؛ مترجم: عین الله غریب؛ تهران، چشمه، 1389؛ در 692ص؛ چاپ چهارم 1393؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان ترکیه - سده 20م

عنوان: نام من سرخ؛ نویسنده: اورهان پاموک؛ مترجم تهمینه زاردشت؛ تهران، مروارید، 1391؛ در 594ص؛ چاپ دوم 1392؛

فهرست: مقدمه؛ «یک - من مرده»؛ «دو - نام من قارا»؛ «سه - من، سگ»؛ «چهار - مرا قاتل خواهند خواند»؛ «پنج - من انیشته»؛ «شش - نام من اورهان»؛ «هفت - نام من قارا»؛ «هشت: نام من اِستِر»؛ «نه - من، شکوره»؛ «ده - من، درخت»، «یازده - نام من قارا»، «دوازده - مرا کلبک میخوانند»؛ «سیزده - مرا لیلک میخوانند»؛ «چهارده - مرا زیتین میخوانند»؛ «پانزده - نام من اِستِر»؛ «شانزده - من، شکوره»؛ «هفده - من انیشته»؛ «هجده - مرا قاتل خواهند خواند»؛ «نوزده - من، پول»؛ «بیست - نام من قارا»؛ و ....؛ «پنجاه و نه - من شکوره»؛

عنوان: منیم آدیم قیرمیزی؛ نویسنده: اورهان پاموک: چئويرن (برگرداننده): جعفر جنانی؛ تبریز، نباتی، 1397؛ در 560ص؛ شابک9786008690887؛

عنوان رمان «نام من سرخ» است، برگردان فارسی از «بنیم آدیم قیرمیزی»، شاید با عنوان دیگر هم چاپ شده باشد، نمیدانم؛ متن و روش روایت، به قدری زیباست، که اگر بخواهم تکه ای را برگزینم، تا برای دل شما اینجا بکارم، تا سبز شود، باید همه ی کتاب را از ابتدا تا انتها بنویسم، «اورهان» در سال 2006میلادی، برنده ی جایزه «نوبل ادبیات» شده اند، شاید برای همین کتاب بوده باشد، هوش از سرم پرید، دوباره، آغاز به خوانشش کرده ام؛ «اورهان» جایی در همین کتاب مینویسند «تصویر و متن، رنگ و کلمه، با هم برادرند» «اورهان پاموک» مینویسند بعضیها میگویند («نام من سرخ»، یک رمان «ایرانی» است، و من همیشه این را یک افتخار بزرگ، و تحسین میدانم.)؛ هوش و ذکاوت نویسنده کم نظیر است؛

نقل از متن برگردان خانم «تهمینه زاردشت»: (شبی از شب‌ها که سعی داشت در اتاقی را که همراه فرزندانم در آن خوابیده بودیم، به‌ زور باز کند، سریع بلند شدم و بدون اينکه اهمیتی به ترس فرزندانم بدهم، تا می‌توانستم با صدای بلند فریاد کشیدم که اجنه‌ ی خبیث وارد خانه شده‌ اند؛ پدر شوهرم را بیدار کردم، وانمود کردم از ترس اجنه فریاد می‌زنم، و حسن را که هنوز هوس تند از سرش نپریده بود، به پدرش لو دادم؛ بین نعره‌ های بی‌معنی و حرف‌هایی که درباره‌ ی اجنه می‌زدم، پیرمرد عاقل با شرم تمام، واقعیت تلخ سرمستی پسرش و قصد بی‌ ادبانه‌ ی ا�� را در حق زن پسر دیگرش، که صاحب دو فرزند بود، فهمید؛ وقتی گفتم تا صبح بیدار خواهم ماند، و در برابر اجنه، با پسرانم پشت در نشسته و انتظار خواهم کشید، صدایی از او درنیامد؛ فردا صبح وقتی گفتم برای عیادت از پدر بیمارم همراه فرزندانم به مدتی طولانی به خانه‌ ی پدرم خواهم رفت، شکست را پذیرفت؛ ساعت زنگ‌داری را که شوهرم از جنگ «مجار» غنیمت آورده و نفروخته بود، تازیانه‌ ای را که از زردپیِ تندخوترین اسب عرب درست شده بود، یکدست شطرنج از عاج فیل ساخت «تبریز» را، که فرزندانم با مهره‌ هایش جنگ بازی راه می‌انداختند، شمعدان‌های نقره‌ ای که با کلی دعوا و مرافعه مانع فروش آن‌ها شده بودم، همه و همه را به‌ عنوان نشانه‌ های زندگی زناشویی‌ ام برداشته، و به خانه‌ ی پدرم بازگشتم

ترک خانه‌ ی شوهر مفقودم، همان‌طور که انتظارش را داشتم، عشق وسواسگونه و نامحترمانه ای را که حسن به من داشت، به عطشی ناامیدانه اما قابل‌ احترام تبدیل کرد؛ از آنجا که می‌دانست پدرش او را یاری نخواهد کرد، به‌ جای تهدید، نامه‌ های عاشقانه‌ ای می‌فرستاد، که گوشه‌ ی هر کدام پرنده یا شیری با قطره اشکی در گوشه‌ ی چشم، و آهوانی محزون نشسته بودند؛ اگر این‌ها را دوست نقاش و شاعر مسکلی برایش ننوشته باشد، اعتراف می‌کنم هنگامی‌که با او زیر یک سقف زندگی می‌کردم، خیال پربارش را نشناخته‌ ام؛ از شما چه پنهان، این اواخر، مدام نامه‌هایش را می‌خوانم؛ حسن در آخرین نامه‌ اش نوشته است که مرا مجبور به انجام کارهای خانه نخواهد کرد، چرا که حالا درآمد زیادی دارد؛ گویی خفنگ پنجره‌ ام را باز کرده بودم چون لحن احترام‌ آمیز، با نمک و بذله‌ گوی حسن، دعواها و خواسته‌ های بی‌پایان فرزندانم، و شکایت‌های پدرم، چنان فکرم را به‌ هم‌ ریخته بود، که می‌خواستم بر سر دنیا داد بکشم.)؛ پایان نقل

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 21/05/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Darcy.
41 reviews193 followers
December 4, 2007
Generally, when a book starts out with a chapter entitled "I Am A Corpse," you know it's going to be pretty good.

The novel is set up so that each chapter introduces a different narrator, including (but not limited to), Black, Black's uncle, Shekure, a dog, a horse, the murderer and various artists in the workshop. This type of structure for a mystery novel isn't new--Wilkie Collins, for example, employed it several times, most notably in The Moonstone--and it is an effective way to structure a story so as to hide the whodunit. Each character only tells as much as he, she or it knows and in Pamuk's novel even the murderer hides his or her identity.

The structure in "My Name Is Red," though is less designed to sustain suspense and more to allow room for the various philosophical discussions concerning the purpose of art and, perhaps more importantly, the distinctions between Islamic states and Western Europe. The Frankish mode of painting, particularly of portraiture--to glorify the subject, to paint him or her in terms of his/her earthly wealth and power, to distribute such an image openly as a show of control, to demonstrate the creative abilities of the artist--is at the center of these debates and discussions. Black's uncle finds such images alluring and fascinating while others see them as abhorent. Master Osman, for example, sees himself as being forced to choose between the centuries old Islamic traditions he venerates and the more modern and distinctly foreign style he despises. Such a choice is not made easily, as the artists themselves discover. The Frankish method celebrates the individuation of the artist--it prizes the signature of the artist as much as the commissioner of the image. This reverence for the artist, as much as for the piece of art, proves to be a great temptation to the men involved and leads directly to the murder.

The structure, however, also allows for a second discussion, not about art but about writing on art. As much as this is a novel concerning visual images, it is also a novel about ekphrasis--the verbal description of art. Ekphrasis has the effect of slowing down a narrative, of interrupting it. Thus, in Homer's Illiad, the great battle scene is suddenly punctured by a lengthy description of Achilles' shield. Pamuk plays with this model repeatedly. When the image of the horse, described several times in the novel, is given a voice of its own the narrative is not interrupted, but rather the description of the image becomes the narrative. And, moreover, as the image speaks it refutes the fundamental principles underlying Master Osman's devotion to Islamic traditions of art. Pamuk can hardly resist the joke--this is a novel about art in which not a single image appears, except the map at the beginning and the ones we create in our minds as we imagine the images described. But, are we creating an image of the ideal horse, the horse of God, or one we can actually touch, taste, and smell?
Profile Image for Jason Koivu.
Author 7 books1,257 followers
March 5, 2022
My Name is Red is as gorgeous as these illuminations.


The narrative flows with the weight of such a lush artistic style.


It is a dazzling brilliance that creates a languid beauty...


...that bogs the story down so much I couldn't tell you what happened. But this is a "lush" read and my review shouldn't dissuade you from reading it.
Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 3 books5,636 followers
July 8, 2018
This is a fantastic book by Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk which explores the relationship between art and religion ad between imagery and idolatry. Set in the 16th century, we are transported into an Istanbul of the Ottoman empire with a murder mystery told in the voices of the characters (and sometimes these are drawings in the books or just concepts) that inhabit the story. Its primary characters feel very real and the buildup to the big reveal at the end makes the book a real page turner. I think that the story told here is still more than relevant to our world of today given the problems stemming from reading religious texts word for word and building violent systems of repression or terror based on individual interpretations of those readings. Unfortunately, some things have not evolved enough in the last 400 years...A must read.
Profile Image for Valeriu Gherghel.
Author 6 books1,443 followers
February 7, 2023
Un roman important despre o lume închisă, de stereotipuri și cutume străvechi, leneșă, obligată brusc (la sfîrșitul secolului al XVI-lea) să se deschidă și să țină seama de obiceiurile apusene. Și nu numai în ceea ce privește pictura, caligrafia și desenul.

Două cărți mi-au venit în minte în timpul lecturii: Secretul culorii pure a lui Federico Andahazi, o povestire modestă despre două școli de pictură rivale în Occident (florentină și flamandă). Dar, mai presus de orice, Numele trandafirului de Umberto Eco.

Stilul lui Pamuk amintește, în schimb (nu știu de ce nu mă miră deloc acest fapt), de stilul lui Borges. Iată o frază care sună perfect borgesian: „Am zăbovit vreme îndelungată, fără să mă clintesc din loc. Am privit lumea. Totul”.

Și încă una în care Pamuk repetă verbul „a vedea” așa cum face Borges în povestirea El Aleph, dar și Roberto Bolaño în Detectivii sălbatici:
„N-am vorbit deloc, vreme îndelungată. Am văzut bufniţa care se aşezase pe acoperişul unei bisericuţe greceşti, în aşteptarea nopţii. I-am văzut pe mucoşii din mahala cum se uitau la straiele şi la bocceaua mea şi rîdeau. Am văzut un cîine rîios care se tot scărpina în vreme ce cobora voios din cimitirul cu chiparoşi în stradă, ieşind în întîmpinarea nopţii”.

Aș mai vrea să adaug ceva. Stilul lui Orhan Pamuk nu este deloc manierist (cum au găsit unii cronicari). E bogat, mlădios, liric, asta da. Manierist? Cîtuși de puțin. Metaforele lui Pamuk au o mare prospețime. Iar prospețimea lor dezminte manierismul. Fiindcă, în opinia mea, manierismul înseamnă uscăciune, absență a trăirii.

Citez: „[Își închipui] o frumuseţe din Kazvin, cu pielea ca arama şi gura vineţie”.

Sau: „Tăcerea s-a întins asemenea unei flori care se deschide fără ca măcar să bagi de seamă”.

Dacă nu aveți romanul lui Orhan Pamuk sau, vai vouă!, încă nu l-ați citit, dați buzna în librării și puneți mîna pe el. După ce-l terminați, dați-mi și mie un peșcheș, un plocon, un bacșiș, că v-am îndemnat să-l cumpărați. Polirom a scos mai multe ediții...

P. S. Mă numesc Roșu NU este un thriller :)
Profile Image for miaaa.
482 reviews408 followers
May 22, 2010
On-a-high version:

I am called Black, I longed for my dearest Shekure for twelve years;
I, Shekure, not quite sure what was I doing in this story;
I am called Butterfly, I was the one who drew the Death and Mia thought I was the murderer;
I am called Stork, I was the one who drew the Tree and Butterfly always envy me as I was more talented without the help from our master;
I am called Olive, I was the one who rendered the Satan and drew the exquisite horse;
I am your beloved uncle, I was preparing a book for our Refuge of the World, Our Glorious Sultan before being murdered by one of my apprentice;
It is I, Master Osman, I wished to follow the path of Master Bihzad who blinded himself with a needle;
I am Esther, my eyes were eternally at the windows and my ears were eternally to the ground;
I am a corpse, I was Elegant Effendi before being murdered by a fellow painter;
I am Mia, I read this book from page 1 to 508 whilst crawling and bleeding to death. So please would someone explain wth is this book about?
Jackie Chan: Who am I?

Sober version:

Interesting story regarding Istanbul in the 16th century. One day I'll visit the amazing Blue Mosque that a good friend of mine, Eddie, always talk about. But seriously, though this book is amazing I can't get into it. Totally not my rocknrolla thing.


one of the bule put this book on my desk, got no idea which one though they pointed their fingers to each other lol
Profile Image for هدى يحيى.
Author 9 books16.2k followers
March 4, 2018

واحدة من أكمل وأمتع وأنضج الروايات التي قرأتها في حياتي
كنت أستلذ سطورها وكأنني أقرأ شعرا
باموق نجح في خلق معادلة صعبة ها هنا
فأنت لا تكتفي بالتمتع بالحدوتة الشيقة الملغزة
بل هناك تصوير بارع
وملعومات مذهلة
وحبكة ممتازة
ووصف مبهر
وحكايات متضافرة تعيش معها أوقات ولا امتع

لو أنني ظللت أكتب وأكتب عن مدى تمتعي وشغفي بهذه الرواية فلن يكفني أبدا هذه الحروف المتبقية

هذه رواية تقطر المتعة منها
Profile Image for Nandakishore Mridula.
1,255 reviews2,298 followers
September 1, 2020
I am in two minds about this book.

Obviously, it is an important work. It showcases the miniaturist tradition of the Islamic world, and uses the cloistered world of miniaturists to explore the difference in philosophies between the East and the West. It was all the more interesting to me because I have been fascinated by this difference ever since I began viewing paintings with serious interest. In the East, "perspective" does not exist: the painting flows seamlessy over space and time whereas in the West (especially since the Renaissance) the painting is the reproduction of a particular moment in time (we are not talking of abstractions here). The miniaturist paints the world as God sees it: he does not sign the painting, nor does he have an individual style, because he is unimportant. He continues painting (in fact, he paints better!) after he inevitably goes blind. The Frankish painters, in contrast, paint the world as we see it, which is blasphemy according to some of the miniaturists.

I was captivated by the sweep of the book as well as the way it was presented: short chapters, each from the viewpoint of a different character, as though we were looking at a book of miniatures which tells a different story on each page. Moreover, it is a murder mystery in which the victims as well as the murderer directly speak to the reader! It bears a certain resemblance to "The Name of the Rose" in this regard, although Eco's book is much more powerful according to me.

Coming to the minuses: the writing is cumbersome and a task to wade through. I do not know if this is a problem with Pamuk's writing or the translation. The characters are flat: the protagonist (Black) is too weak and cowardly: the heroine (if we can call her that!) too self-centred and manipulative. Maybe the author intended them to be like that, but it does lose reader interest.

I was also rather put off by the amount of lust bubbling on each page. Apart from normal sex (including homosexuality), there is incest, paedophilia, bestiality, fetishism... simmering just beneath the surface. Young boys are regularly presented as objects of lust. Men kiss each other passionately, even when one is about to kill the other! I have heard that Turkey was the centre of "deviant" sexual practices during Ottoman times, so maybe it is a true picture, but it did not vibe with me.

(Edit to add: a person has commented that this paragraph is likely to give the impression that I am attacking LGBTQ people, and on reading it again, I find that there is some substance to the accusation. So I have edited it suitably. The whole idea of putting "deviant" in quotes was to highlight the dubiousness of the label. However, it was the lust that disturbed me and not the sexual preference. Maybe it is my personal problem, that is why I have noted it down subjectively.)

So...adding the negatives and positives, I will go for three stars.
Profile Image for Mohamed Al.
Author 2 books4,940 followers
October 25, 2015
تذكرت، وأنا أقرأ الفقرة الأخيرة من الرواية التي تقول فيها شكورة " احذروا من تصديق أورهان، لأنّه ليس ثمّة كذبة لا يقدم عليها لتكون حكايته جميلة ونصدّقها" ، عبارة لغادة السّمان تقول فيها بأنها موجودة في كل قصصها التي تكتبها. ودفعني ذلك للتساؤل عن السبب الكامن خلف اختيار باموك أسماء مثل "أورهان" و"شوكت" و"شكورة" لشخصيات روايته وهي في الحقيقة ليست سوى اسمه، اسم شقيقه الأكبر، واسم والدته. وهل يحمل هذا الكتاب جزءًا من روح باموك وعائلته؟
يجيب باموك على هذا السؤال في كتابه ألوان أخرى" بأنه سرّب بعضًا من حياته في هذا الكتاب، كمشاجراته التي لا تنتهي مع أخيه الأكبر شوكت، ومغامراتهم الشقية التي تنتهي دائمًا بخلاف ودموع. هناك أيضًا بعضٌ من أمه في شكورة، إنها امرأة قوية ومسيطرة تعرف ماذا تفعل وماذا تريد، أو على الأقل هذه هي الطريقة التي تحاول الظهور بها. والطريقة التي توبخ بها شوكت، أخو أورهان، والطريقة التي تحنو بها على الأخوين .. إلخ هذه الأشياء وتفاصيل صغيرة كثيرة أخرى نقلها باموك من الحياة .. من حياته.
ماذا عن حبكة الرواية؟
رغم أن باموك برع في حقن روايته بعنصر الإثارة عندما طبعها بطابع بوليسي، إلا أنه يعترف في إحدى مقالاته بأن حبكة اللغز كانت مقحمة وأنه لم يكتبها بإخلاص نابع من قلبه. ويبرر استخدامها بخوفه من أن أحدًا لن يهتم بمنمنماته الجميلة إلا لو وجدت مثل هذه الأداة لجذب القارئ إليها، وهي في نفس الوقت تحمل، في رأيي، رمزية بالغة، فجريمة القتل التي راح ضحيتها النقّاش ظريف، كانت تعبيرًا واضحًا وصادقًا لعداء المتشددين لفنون التصوير، والجرائم التي اقترفوها ولا يزالون يقترفونها –بفتاواهم- في حق الفن والجمال والتعبير البصري.
وبعيدًا عن الجو البوليسي، فإن الرواية تدور في أعمق مستوياتها حول الخوف من النسيان، الخوف من ضياع الفنّ. فقد فُقد هذا الفن الجميل بقسوةٍ وطواه النسيان؛ وكتابه كان لذلك عن آلام وتراجيديا هذا الضياع، وهذا المحو. إنه عن آلام وأحزان تاريخ مفقود!
Profile Image for Henry Avila.
468 reviews3,255 followers
June 26, 2023
During nine snowy, cold, winter days in the fabulous city of Istanbul the capital of the Ottoman Empire, at its height in the reign of Sultan Murat 111 there occurred a brutal murder, (not the last one ) the year 1591. At the bottom of an abandoned well the mangled body of Elegant Effendi nicknamed Red, a miniaturist who had worked for the Sultan is found but not before the corpse tells his sad story. How the victim was lured by a person which was thought a close friend, with promises of riches and savagely attacked. Strangely the spirit is contented and feels no anger now. Just looking forward to the new world paradise, in heaven. He was a talented painter along with Stork, Olive, and Butterfly under old Master Osman who gave them all their aliases, taught the boys everything they know including beatings, when mistakes were made ( all surprisingly love their master, of 25 years) in a workshop funded by the revered sovereign. Colorful paintings of bright glorious colors of horses , trees, clouds, important people slaughter on many battlefields, fables, enchanting gardens under the exotic illuminating moon with lovers looking tenderly at each other . Red was uneasy about a secret project he worked on because of the foreign, Venetian styled illustrations forbidden by Islam many believe, later when completed these small paintings will be put in a book, to be viewed only by the ruler and a few trusted associates ... Black (Kara) a clerk, secretary, and occasional warrior hired by pashas fighting endless wars against the Persians, returns to his hometown of Istanbul after twelve long years. A failed romance cause him much suffering, the reason for his volunteered exile. The beauty Shekure his uncle's Enishte daughter, was constantly on his mind the lonely days spent thinking about his cousin wanderings through the vast hot deserts and freezing temperatures in the dizzy , elevations of towering mountains sleeping in pungent tents in isolated locations. The rejection of a marriage proposal by his own uncle for his love, and her wedding to another a famous soldier he can never forget. But her husband has been missing for four years, she with two small children living at her father's house and the army has come back. A second chance for happiness if only Black can win her affections... Still he has very strong competition, from fierce Hasan younger brother of Shekure's fearless husband. Esther a shrewd Jewish peddler, matchmaker , and messenger for clandestine sweethearts she knows everything about everyone, having walked over all the city's streets begins bringing letters to Shekure and Black and Hasan too. Rumors that the killer is a miniaturist sweeps the city. Black had been one in his youth, with the three remaining master painters before quitting. And the angry Sultan wants the murderer caught in three days, or torture will commence on the suspects every miniaturist ...
Profile Image for Kelly.
889 reviews4,127 followers
September 10, 2009
My fickle heart longs for the West when I'm in the East and for the East when I'm in the West.
My other parts insist I be a woman when I'm a man and a man when I'm a woman.
How difficult it is being human, even worse is living a human's life.
I only want to amuse myself frontside and backside, to be Eastern and Western both.

This is Pamuk's enduring, never ending obsession. He's written fiction and non-fiction, journal articles and newspaper bites, and given endless interviews on this theme. He's even been thrown in jail and put on trial for the identity he has chosen. He's won the Nobel Prize in Literature for his commitment to expressing his deeply divided mind and spirit, and that (at least he and many others believe) of his country- Turkey. (I apologize in advance if this ends up being something of a ramble through the literary bramble, but I can only say that that would mirror the experience of reading this book.)

My Name is Red will tell you that it is a murder mystery, set in 16th century Istanbul, under the rule of the Sultan. But it will also tell you that it is about many other things, each of which changes, ephermerally, by the moment. The atmosphere of the story digs a little bit into Garcia-Marquez's garden, but storytelling would never be mistaken for his. Each chapter is told by a different voice- some of which are plausible members of a storytelling round, and some of which would really only belong in that category if you were on acid, but they all seem about equally credible, due to the fact that nobody is really credible, so one might as well be fiction or myth as fact. (For instance, we hear from the voices of the drawing of a horse, the fake voice of a woman who is actually a man, a gold piece and the color red.) It is ethereal, elusive, and there isn't one incarnation of the mind that can be trusted here. Don't fall into the trap of assuming that what you read has anything to do with anything other than the particular pyschology of the moment- Pamuk is a master of depicting the every day track of a mind, and how unreliable each feeling of a moment is- how everything important is changed by the fact that one just happens to feel hungry at a particular moment, or desperately horny at another. It is an absolute masterwork of insight on the psychology of a particular people at a particular time, and all the various reasons why they are that way, and yet he is able to make them as relatable as possible through it all.

What struck me the most throughout the entire book was how terrified, it seemed, that Pamuk was of missing something. While other authors might be striving to become masters of literature, masters of form, I think Pamuk wished that he could be nothing so much as a master of tapestry-making. I think he would die happy if he could have given this book to the theoretical Weaver in the sky and gotten it back as a divine scrap of worked fabric. There are lists upon lists upon lists of endless things that go on for pages, only to stop and start up once again. As a part of his contradictory feelings towards the West, in a culture whose stories and traditions often originated in the East... although he longs for the West, he's terrified, just as his characters are, that everything they know from the East will disappear. It seems like he can't stop himself- there's some sort of driving fear if he doesn't list everything about history and culture and myth, and repeat all the stories again and again to make sure we remember what they are, it will be gone forever. His expression of ambivalence towards Western culture perfectly expresses the mindset of illuminators in 16th century Istanbul terrified that their entire lives are about to become irrelevant.

The other absorbing, fascinating, and horrifying thing was how well Pamuk illustrates the idea that absolutely nobody speaks with their own voice, both through his painters, constrained by centuries of adherance to a perfect style that some random master brought out of Baghdad that depicts the "perspective of Allah." It is considered heresy and a fault to have a "style", and "signatures" are furitively hidden away as much as possible- the idea that blindness is the ideal to be obtained for these artists is just heartbreaking- at least to someone coming at it from a Western perspective, where seeing painters deliberately rob themselves of their sight, their most precious commodity, over and over again, in the course of obtaining a meaningless idea of perfection that is not their own. The murderer throughout this book strives endlessly to hide himself by speaking in a voice that does not at all resemble how we see him in other places. The majority of people who are speaking a themselves tell stories in order to express their feelings- in fact at the beginning all the suspected illuminators speak almost entirely in story form in order to answer any important question on any philosophical, religious, or even personal topic. Expressing one's feelings just isn't done. One doesn't go up to the pretty boy one would like to fuck and tell him so, one tells him a parable about a gorgeous boy in order to show your admiration for him. Much as the pictures are seen as the "perspective of Allah," it seems that there is only one way to speak, too, in the "words of Allah," or those stories which are sanctioned by the authorities as legitimate- the authority of Allah on earth. It was the ultimate tragedy of the book from the Western perspective, and the ultimate triumph of the book from the accepted ides of the time, all of these de-individualized people (as much as can be done or denied or pushed from sight) striving towards the goal of seeing as Allah does, ever in the correct way.

But everyone recognizes the end of the "Eastern" way of life coming from the West, in the guise of the "Venetian" ways that everyone will want to slavishly follow in the future, ways which reactionary preachers and religious people are protesting against before they've even made serious headway, trying to keep their way of life "pure." But the rest of the book poitns out again and again that there is no way that the culture of the Ottoman Empire was pure in any way- no constantly conquering culture with a large army and a long reach could ever be. No autocratic society that entailed artisans, craftsman and soldiers to pick up and serve someone else once their lord was defeated (if they weren't killed out right) could develop in isolation without any influence from the outside. He shows globalization already happening, back in the 16th century, and how deep the effects penetrate then and now.

I loved his Istanbul for his brilliant evocation of identity, living with a burdensome past and an uncertain future, for its poetry and its memory. My Name is Red accomplishes much the same thing, with more magic- but just enough dirt to bring it right straight home where it belongs in 2009.
Profile Image for Astraea.
139 reviews1 follower
September 16, 2017
5 امتیاز هم کم هست برای این کتاب
اورهان پاموک به حق یکی از نویسندگان برتر دوران ما هستش.
نوع روایت و زبان کتاب بسیار گیرا و جذاب و بیان نظرات و دیدگاه اشیاء نوآوری بسیار موفق بود. .
نه تنها ارزش خوندن داشت، بلکه ارزش این رو داره که در کتابخانه هر فرد کتابخونی باشه...
اگه بخوام گل سرسبد کتابخونه ام رو انتخاب کنم، بی شک در کنار غزلیات سعدی و هومرو لنگلی دکتروف، این کتاب هم قرار داره!!!!!!!!!!!
Profile Image for Issa Deerbany.
374 reviews432 followers
September 16, 2017
رغم طول الرواية وتفاصيل النقش والرسم والتلوين والتهذيب فقد استمتعت بها .
وأرى انها تحفة ولا اعرف اذا فاز بجائزة نوبل للاداب على هذه الرواية ولكن تستحق الفوز .
لولا انها رواية تاريخية لاعتقدت ان الكاتب يعمل نقاشا .
وصف الصراعات الداخلية عند شخصيات الرواية ملهم ويثير العجب وكأنها شخصيات من العصر الحاضر وهذه من عظمة هذا الكاتب.
شكرا اورهان باموق
Profile Image for بثينة العيسى.
Author 23 books25.9k followers
May 23, 2018
يطرح باموق في اسمي أحمر فكرة.. أن وجود الخطأ في العمل الفني هو البصمة البشرية التي تسمّى "الأسلوب"، وأن الفنان عديم الأسلوب هو الأقرب إلى كمال التصوير الإلهي للأشياء. الفنان الذي لا يخطئ هو الفنان الذي لا أسلوب له، الفنان الخفي، وهو رديف لفكرة موت المؤلف في الأدب.

ساد عرفٌ لدى النقّاشين بأنه من المعيب أن يوقّع النقّاش أعماله، فهذا دليل على نقصها، لأن النقش الحقيقي هو النقش الذي يشبه أعمال القدماء وهو لا يحتاج إلى توقيع.

هذه فكرة تنطوي على أن الله خلق العالم بلا أسلوب، لأنها قوانين لا يعتريها الخطأ. هذه الفكرة تقتضي أيضًا أننا لا نستطيع قراءة صفات الله في العالم، أو أن الصنعة لا تدل على الصانع بل على غيابه وحسب.

لقد دشّن باموق فكرته على فرضية لا يمكن التحقق منها. من قال بأن الإله خلق العالم بلا أسلوب؟ من قال بأن هذه القوانين لا تعتريها انحيازات أسلوبية معينة، كان يمكن، في واقع موازٍ أن تكون على نحوٍ آخر؟.

Profile Image for Majeed Estiri.
Author 6 books494 followers
September 19, 2019
دوست دارم بعد از نوشتن این چند خط کمی هم نقدهایی که بر این کتاب نوشته شده را بخوانم اما عجالتا این نکات را عرض کنم:

- فکر نکنم ما ایرانی ها رمانی نوشته باشیم که به اندازه این اثر به فرهنگ و هنرمون خدمت کرده باشه. مسئلهء پاموک در این رمان اساسا هویت هنر ایرانی هستش و خودش هم چند جا در اثر اشاره میکنه که عثمانی ها چیز ارزشمندی در برابر آثار هنرمندان قزوین و هرات نداشته ن. دریغ و دریغ که خودمون تا به حال چنین رمانی خلق نکرده ایم. یک رمانی مرتضی کربلایی لو نوشته در فضای هنر قالی بافی که از لحاظ پدیدارگرایی بدک نیست اما از لحاظ عمق تحقیقاتی در برابر این اثر هیچ عمقی نداره.

- نمیدونم چرا پاموک تصمیم گرفته در نوشتن این رمان اساسا بی خیال "لحن" بشه. به نظر من تنبلی کرده. وقتی شما این همه شخصیت داشته باشی باید برای حرف زدن هر کدومشون یه لحن خاص طراحی بکنی. پدرت در میاد. هر جمله ای که میخوان بگن باید از صافی اون لحن بگذره. اما راه ساده تر اینه که بگی ای مخاطب من تو داری صدای ذهن شخصیت های من رو میشنوی و مگه ذهن آدمها لحن داره؟! همه آدما در ذهن خودشون پر حرف و وراج هستند. اما نه آقای پاموک. کار خودت را خراب کردی.

- ما ایرانی ها از این همه جزئیاتی که درباره هنر نقاشی در ایران گفته میشه خسته نمیشیم و حتی کیف هم میکنیم اما به نظرم چیزی که حجم رمان را این قدر زیاد کرده وفور جزئیات بدون کاربرد هستش. اگر هم نخوایم بگیم بدون کاربرد لااقل میتونیم بگیم نویسنده دنبال موجزترین روش بیان نگشته واقعا

- و تلخ ترین مسئله هم ترجمه بد عین اله غریب که من همین اواخر فهمیدم چقدر صدای مخاطبان حرفه ای را درآورده.
Profile Image for Jibran.
224 reviews664 followers
May 21, 2015
Arguably the best novel of Orhan Pamuk. Set in Istanbul during the height of Ottoman power, this novel is a tribute to the art of painting as well as a fascinating murder mystery which will keep you hooked till the end. The unusual narrative is felt with full force right from the start - as you read the first chapter, starting with the voice of a corpse at the bottom of the well wondering who was the wretched man that killed him.

Then ensues a beautiful exploration of the 16th century Istanbul's art scene, its many rivalries, and in between breaths a heartfelt love story that keeps the main protagonist on his heels, as he finds his way through the internecine politics at home and at court. This story is a fascinating example of the possibilities of modern global novel. Must read.
Profile Image for MaSuMeH.
171 reviews193 followers
August 31, 2013
کتاب به اندازه ی کافی مشهور است و نیاز به معرفی اضافه ندارد غیر از 2 نکته به نظر من :1. نحوه روایت از زبان راویان مختلف مثلن جایی از زبان یک سکه پول،که جذابیت فوق العاده ای داشت و 2. یک جایی یک جمله می گوید که شخصا فکر می کنم بزرگترین و اصلی ترین تفاوت شرق و غرب است.مضمون جمله این است که چرا غربی ها از کشیدن پرتره لذت می برند و نقاشان شرق از کشیدن چهره هایی متعلق به فرشته ها و عالم بالا ؟ در ادامه می نویسد به این دلیل که غربی ها دنیا را آنگونه می بینند که هست و شرقی ها آنگونه که می خواهند باشد!
Profile Image for Sawsan.
1,000 reviews
July 5, 2022
يدخل أورهان باموك عالم النقش والرسم في اسطنبول القديمة عاصمة الدولة العثمانية
فن الرسم والتذهيب والتلوين.. تاريخه وموضوعاته وأساليبه وحكايات عن لوحات وكتب وأساطير
ووصف لتفاصيل غاية في الدقة عن الرسومات بكل نقوشها وألوانها
السرد مميز يتوزع على أكثر من راوي, كل فصل على لسان أحد الشخصيات أو الأشياء
الرواية فيها بعض الإثارة والغموض, تبدأ بجريمة قتل ولا تخلو من قصة غرام طويلة
لكن الموضوع العام عن فن النقش بكل جوانبه هو الأهم وكتب عنه باموك بحرفية كبيرة
في بعض أجزاء كانت كثرة التفاصيل سبب في شيء من الملل
Profile Image for Lisa.
991 reviews3,320 followers
February 24, 2020
This is a perfect novel, I realised, quite a few years after I finished it.

It has art and crime and passion and plot and characters and style and all that jazz. And it appeals to grumpy people past prime as well as passionate adolescents discovering the universe of literature for the first time.

When a student of mine, aged 15, stormed into the library and declared this was the best book ever, I felt strangely sad I hadn't thought more about it since I read and loved it some years ago. When the same student grabbed the next Orhan Pamuk novel she could find on the shelf, an innocent brick of a museum novel, I even felt jealous, as I hadn't read that one yet and I bizarrely envied her the first touch of a Pamuk novel - while at the same time being incredibly grateful he writes and reaches the next generation. A rare gift. I remember developing a passion for miniature painting while reading My Name Is Red, and it has stayed with me since, even through the times when I barely remembered the book itself.

My next Pamuk is in the pipeline while my student is working her way through a museum of innocence, growing with each novel...
Profile Image for Fabian.
956 reviews1,623 followers
September 2, 2018
I could not help but think of the film "Daisies" (“Sedmikrasky,” dir. Vera Chytilova), that shameless classic of the Czech New Wave while reading Ohran Pamuk’s My Name is Red. That brilliant & psychedelic film of the 60’s portrays two incessant, silly girls who seem to want to emphasize their existence by playing pranks on other people and being undeniably obnoxious. They are terrified at the idea of being forgotten—of not existing. Similarly, in Pamuk’s epic novel of conspiring miniaturists, of love and death, the reader is confronted with the theme of existence. There is an unknown presence which strives to be part of the reader’s consciousness—which, like the two unremitting, adolescent & undeniably-alive individuals of the film, tries its hardest to appear, to become known & acknowledged.

My Name is Red has a radical structure. As I read more and more books, it becomes increasingly clear that some writers take an enormous amount of effort in establishing a frame, a “cabinet of curiosities” (in the same tradition as MVL’s “Chinese boxes” and “communicating vessels) in which to properly display their creations. For example, A. S. Byatt, in her Booker-prize winning novel "Possession," a novel that is more poetry book than a novel, creates several frames in which to place all the poetry which two poets keep exchanging as tokens of their love. Byatt obviously wants to make her poetry accessible, and gives it further clout by giving each poet his or her unique voice—by fully creating two different minds. Pamuk also uses the novel to display his craft, establishing a museum in which to showcase his “paintings”: his cabinet of curiosities includes, not poems, but individual vignettes, brush-stroke tableaus which represent but one facet of a full universe. The conglomeration of these makes up the bulk—gives the reader the voice, the theme & style—of the novel.

“If I could only,” the nameless murderer tells Enishte Effendi, “see the last picture in its entirety” (158). Both the character’s expectations and the reader’s match—their journey is, therefore, genuinely entwined. The reader wants to know what all these different vignettes will culminate in. The wants of a fictional character and those of an actual live reader are the one and the same—this is the main catalyst which moves the narrative to its awesome conclusion. The reader is prepared to sift through the surplus of stories, images, and motifs to get to the bottom of this radical love story/murder mystery. Enishte Effendi admits: “They say we’ve committed an unforgivable sin by daring to draw, from the perspective of a mangy street dog, a horsefly and a mosque as if they were the same size” (158). Virginia Woolf’s literary sense of character democracy, of consciousness-equality, is pretty much Pamuk’s own. By depicting various POVs, by making them authentic and articulate, Pamuk seems to rationalize like many of the great writers that every tiny aspect of the plot is essential—only with all of these different takes on the same thing (the murder of Elegant and the love story of Black and Shekure) can the reader get a faithful interpretation of such enormous complexity and chaos.

There is a consciousness which ties the characters together, and it is perhaps the force of life itself. The crazy girls perturb the status quo when they admit that they want to live (live!) in Daisies. The different entities (whether they be annoying Shekure or the talking picture of a dog, or literally, the color red) all possess life and they indulge the reader in their personal and unique elucidations on life in 16th-century Istanbul. The added element, that is, all the writer’s own beliefs in art (writing is aptly compared to painting) are present in Red, and the work transcends not only the rules of storytelling by having such incredibly different characters in it with such unique voices, but also because it dabbles with the postmodern idea of reading about art within a work of art.

All that being said, there is a grave problem with the pacing of the book--it took me forever to complete this (and lets face it, Gone With the Wind this is not). Also, there is a ceaseless amount of repetition of events, a constant reassurance that seems extraneous-- a recompilation of different occurrences voiced by the different (though extremely intriguing) characters. The themes, rich in the context of the production of art, are very appropriate and very revolutionary. This is a postmodern work which of course still lingers on the romantic, and then plays around some with the detective novel genre.
Profile Image for سـارا.
247 reviews240 followers
May 5, 2019
این کتاب جامونده از نمایشگاه کتاب پارسال بود و خب قطعا بخاطر حجم بالاش حوصله و زمان مناسب می‌طلبید.
داستان در رابطه با هنر نقاشی در عهد صفوی و دربار عثمانیه، زندگی و کار و روابط نقاشان اون دوره و پرداختن به تاریخ نقاشی بخش عمده ای از کتاب رو در برمیگیره و به شخصه موضوع نابش رو بی‌اندازه دوست داشتم.
اما نکته‌ی خاصی که خیلی از قسمت‌ها درگیرم میکرد لحن و زبان عجیب شخصیت ها بود. اکثریت بخش ها لحن گفتگوها خیابانی و عامیانه اند و نامتناسب با سبک و سیاق داستان و آداب و رسوم اون دوره تاریخی.
برخی از شخصیت های اصلی خوب پرداخته نشده بودن و خواننده نمی‌تونست خودش رو با اونها همسو ببینه و به نحوی خودش رو جای شخصیت‌ها بذاره. (شخصیت شکوره کاملا برام غیر قابل درک بود)
و مسئله ای که خیلی برام جذاب بود؛ نزدیکی فرهنگ ایران به ترکیه، فضایی رو ایجاد کرده که انگار با یک رمان ایرانی طرفید نه یک اثر ترجمه.
Profile Image for Emily B.
442 reviews441 followers
July 13, 2022
I bought this book because the first line/page sounded original and intriguing. However I soon found this novel tedious and boring. It just wasn't my cup of tea.
Profile Image for Lissa.
86 reviews7 followers
March 11, 2017
I tried very hard to really like this book. But, I suppose it's impossible to succeed in everything.

My Name Is Red is both historical fiction and a murder mystery. It takes place in 1591 (according to the timeline at the end of the book). The over-arching motion of the plot centers around the death of a master miniturist in the Sultan's court. The death is revealed in the first chapter, though the reasons surrounding the his death are much slower in being revealed. What is known, almost at the outset, is that his death is related to a book that the Sultan has commission that is to be illustrated in the European style, with respect to perspective and a view of the world as an actual person sees it (as opposed to how Allah would see it). Enishte Effendi, the person in charge of the manuscript, calls his childhood apprentice Black Effendi back from Persia to Istanbul to help investigate the murder and help him finish the Sultan's book. Within this overarching plot is the plight of Enishte's daughter Shekure, whose husband went to war four years prior and never came back. Black has been pining away for her during his twelve year absence from Istanbul, though he is not the only man who is interested in becoming her new husband. Amongst the plot and subplot, there are multiple discussions of style and individualism and what it means to be a father/father-figure, among other topics.

The story is told in a sort of Faulkner-esque fashion, with each chapter being told in the perspective of different characters in the story. These characters are sometimes alive, and sometimes dead (as in the first chapter entitled "I am a corpse"). Also, sometimes the chapters are told in the sort-of perspective of the drawing from Enishte's book - I say sort of, because they're really told from the perspective of a coffee house storyteller who is pretending to be what is depicted in Enishte's book. Are you confused yet?

The was my first issue with this book: at the beginning, it's very confusing. Not knowing a lot about the Muslim faith, it took many chapters before I figured out what exactly was wrong with the way Enishte wanted to illustrate his manuscript. My second problem with this book was all of the exposition. There is too much time spent on the exposition on topics like love and style that are obliquely connected with the plot. Certainly these expositions add greater depth to the different characters, but after a while it started to get a little tedious. Thirdly, Pamuk does not inhabit his different narrators in the way that David Mitchell (Ghostwritten, Cloud Atlas) manages to. As a result, the book feels a little bit flat. Fourthly, the subplot with Shekure adds very little to the book. I found her to be an incredibly unappealing character, and I found myself wishing that the murderer would murder her next.

All of that being said, the book does have a certain flair to the writing. Some of the exposition is really thought-provoking. I also thought that the stories told from the perspective of drawings and corpses and even colors were interesting additions to the plot. In sum, I'm not sorry I read it, but I was expecting more out of it.
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,882 reviews16.6k followers
February 24, 2022
This was a joy to read.

I read a lot of good books: good stories, good characterization, good dialogue, good writing. It’s a rare treat when I can sit down and thoroughly enjoy a book because the writer has not just crafted a good book, but has gone on to create art, to invest his or her time and energy and creativity and genius into a wonderful work, something that is designed to be better than good.

Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk’s 1998 novel, this edition translated into English by Erdag M. Goknar, about sixteenth century intrigue in and around Istanbul is also about art, and artists, and culture and Islam and so much more.

As the novel begins, a miniaturist has been murdered and thrown down into an abandoned well. We know this because the victim tells us.

Each chapter in Pamuk’s tale is told from the perspective of a different character, a murder victim to begin with, other artists, the murderer, an art master, a tree, a painting of a horse, and so on.

In the author’s able hands, it is as if the narrator of the chapter sits on a stage and shares with us a conversation about his aspect of the story. Some are insightful and brimming with clues about the ongoing investigation, others are chatty and providing us with illuminating backstory about region or about the Ottoman Empire or about the other characters.

We get to know dozens of players in this act and all while learning who is the murderer and why the deed was done.

Masterfully created, this was an exceptionally well told story.

Profile Image for Samra Yusuf.
60 reviews401 followers
December 22, 2017
I believe in the fact that there is nothing as fact, everything the eye beholds is the individual reality of the beholder, what the eye sees and mind translates it as sight is a phenomenon of individual perception, and this is where the artist discerns himself from a mere beholder, he is, simultaneously a beholder and a creator, or we may say the re-creator, his strokes alive the scenery, his colors spark the stars, his art immortals the mortality of life, and his hands vouchsafe timelessness to the time bound. And such an artist, is a blatant sinner in the eyes of Islam, as Allah is the sole creator, and to create is his attribute only, and to impersonate this attribute an act of sacrilege! And Orhan took 700 plus pages to indispensably say this.
Its sixteenth century Istanbul, pinnacle of ottoman rule, a book of illustrations is in the making, the contents of the book are being kept secret until it completes, as the Sultan demands. One of the four makers of book is found murdered at the pit of well with cause of murder and murderer unknown, following another murder of the in charge of the whole work Enishte Effendi by the hands of same murderer in same manner, and a good 500 pages wrap the further happenings.
The novel’s busting with plots within plots, history, mystery, art, education, philosophy, love, lost, you just name it, and all it lacks is grip on reader and the inspiration to move on, or in the very least drag on, I believe Orhan is not the sole creator of this concoction of a thing novel, translator has done the job on equal ground, but translation alone doesn’t grind the gears, it’s the whirlwind of infinity narrative voices you find yourself blown up with, or we might correctly say swipe away with, characters are as flat as a scale, and never did I read anything this lackluster on the subject of art
I am inclined to believe all Pamuk aimed through this, was the encomium to the lost art of Islamic illumination, if it could only had not been with this dry voice..huh!
Profile Image for Praveen.
179 reviews292 followers
May 4, 2021
Even if you are away from your lover if a lover’s face survives emblazoned on your heart, the world is still your home.

An Impetuous response In October 2019
If your name is red, my name is blue.
You can glide from my hand like sand; I will stick on your soul like glue.

This book is dispersed with such a sumptuous redness that after reading it my entire self was tinged with azure… Not with red but with azure… because the color changes color when it evaporates from the pages of a marvelous book and transpires into the imaginary eyes of a curious reader. I am beholden. I have turned resplendent, but not like you… O Redness! I admit that the shine is the virtue of the Sun and one name of the Sun is also red. But on the backdrop on which this redness sparkles, that since time immemorial is only blue!

A rapport was straightway established between your redness and my blueness. It was all at once since the very beginning when that corpse said

I am nothing but a corpse now, a body at the bottom of a well. Though I drew my last breath long ago and my heart has stopped beating, no one apart from that vile murderer knows what has happened to me.

The Validity of that initial upshot is intact in April 2021
I jotted down these two short paragraphs immediately after I finished this novel in the month of October in 2019. This book was sitting bolt upright on the shelf for more than six years. It’s today only when I am getting time to write this review, I am recalling all my personal association with this book.

A memory
I had bought this book years ago at Mumbai airport. I was sitting with my colleague (My senior obvious at my work) with whom I was traveling for the first time. We never had any personal interaction. He was busy messaging someone on his high-end smartphone and I did not want to bring out my phone. So my eyes were attentively examining the disorderly commotion of fellow travelers. While waiting in the waiting lounge for quite some time in absolute quietude I turned to the other man I broke the ice, “Excuse me! I will buy something.”

My senior at once replied pointing in a certain direction with his right thumb to me, “The bookstall is there!”

I looked into his eyes in surprise, grinned like a Cheshire cat, and moved on. I was thinking to myself how this man knows that I want to buy a book and not a burger. We never discussed books. We were first time together.

When I reached to the book parlor, my eyes fell on this title and this title seemed to me so quirky (How can someone’s name be red?) and when I read those lines stated by the corpse on the first page highlighted above, I bought it in a flash. I had not heard much of Orhan Pamuk then. This was probably the second book of my life which I immediately bought knowing nothing about the book and the author just by getting seduced by the title in a book outlet. The first such book was The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. I am beaming to declare that in both cases my all of a sudden infatuation with the title of a book ended up in rip-roaring reading experiences.

However, every time I think about this book this question keeps popping up in my head,

“How did he know that I want to buy a book and not a burger?”

The book
Set in the Istanbul of the sixteenth century, this is a story of one ‘Black’ who after an absence of 12 years entered Istanbul, like a somnambulist, at the age of 36. He, 12 years ago had fallen helplessly in love with his young cousin. Many of his friends and relatives have died during this 12 years exile. Twelve years ago when he had declared his love for the Shekure, his declaration of love was considered an act of insolence by his uncle. He was exiled. He comes back and found that his love, with her two children, is living alone. Her husband, a soldier, has no clue of his whereabouts. And the brother of her husband, Hasan, has an evil eye on her.

While in the background, the Sultan commissions a great book secretly to celebrate his life and his empire, the work goes to the best miniaturists of the age. Meanwhile, one among them is murdered. As a consequence, in the foreground, it progresses as a story of a murderer, who feels and proclaims to the reader that he would not have believed he could take anyone’s life even if he had been told so a moment before he murdered that fool Elegant, who he feels was like a brother to him. He sometimes feels as if he has not committed any crime at all. He freely walks in the city of Istanbul, from one street to another looking at the faces of people.

As I stare at people’s faces, I realize that many of them believe they are innocent because they haven’t yet had the opportunity to snuff out a life. It’s hard to believe that most men are more moral or better than me simply on account of some minor twist of fate.

In essence, this book is a historical murder mystery. But there are so many themes and sub-contexts present. If you have encountered the term ‘postmodernism’ diving out from an edified tongue of a sagacious literary guy and you get confused what is this. Read this book, it is postmodernist in its approach, if I am not mistaken. Its meta-fictional traits are amazing and worthy of coming back to again and again.

This is a love story.
This is exotic and dreamy.

This is philosophical.
This is very reflective and ruminative in nature.

This is suspenseful.
I had to read it with bated breath.

This is about art and artists.
I saw the knack and prowess of the miniaturists.

This is about religion too.
Those ruminating parts in between are balanced on religion.

It plays wonderfully on human emotions.
That jealousy, that rivalry that romance, you will see.

You will also find real historical references and popular folklores and fables in the narration.

Personally, the most compelling things in this book for me were two.

The first one is the author’s take on art and artists in the plot. Miniaturists and calligraphers were frustrated by the wars and presence of Ottoman soldiers but hadn't yet left for Kazvin or another Persian City from Istanbul and it was these Masters complaining of poverty and neglect, it was commissioned to inscribe illustrate and bind the pages of the manuscripts. While depicting their learning of art and getting mastery and describing the prowess of these artists, the author has sprinkled pearls of wisdom through his philosophical rumination at many places. I liked the conversations between masters and disciples and their thoughtful talks inside their artistic hovels.

I am delighted now to see that Black has acquired another essential virtue. To avoid disappointment in art, one must not treat it as a career. Despite whatever great artistic sense and talent a man might possess, he ought to seek money and power elsewhere to avoid forsaking his art when he fails to receive proper compensation for his gifts and efforts.

One student asked a question.

My great master, my dear sir! what separates the genuine miniaturist from the ordinary?
Master responds that there are three traits

-Will he have his individual style?
-How will he feel when his work and pictures will be used in other’s books?
-Third virtue is blindness!

Second is the narration style of the novel with its suspense. Every major character of the novel narrates his or her story. The ultimate aim is to find the murderer. This murderer comes out in between and talks to the reader about how he did it and why he did it. But the reader is not able to guess who this bloody murderer is!

In my opinion, this book is a must-read for every book lover.

This is a scintillating blending of romance, suspense, history, art, and philosophy in a passionate and spirituous language of prose.
Profile Image for Firdevs.
17 reviews94 followers
April 17, 2018
Orhan Pamuk'un nakkaşlar üzerine bunaltıcı detaylarına rağmen zevkle okuyacağınız bir kitap.
Profile Image for Ali Karimnejad.
313 reviews166 followers
January 4, 2021

نام من سرخ یک تمثیل فوق‌العاده از چگونگی خاموش شدن چراغ علم و هنر در مشرق زمینه. کتابی که اگرچه بعضی مواقع حوصله سربر می‌شه اما به لطف روایت بامزش، هیچ وقت کسل کننده نمی‌شه.

کتاب از نظر نحوه روایت بسیار با سایر کتابهای دیگه‌ای که دیده بودم متفاوته و شما در همه‌جا نقش یک شونده رو دارید و راوی هر فصل هم یک "چیزه". گاهی یک شخصه، گاهی یک سگه، گاهی یک درخته و حتی بعضی مواقع یک جسده! بله، یک جسد! اصلا کل ماجرا از یک جسد شروع می‌شه و داستان یک تم کاراگاهی هم داره که باید توش قاتل این جسد رو پیدا کنید. نحوه روایت با نمک و صمیمی کتاب باعث می‌شه همیشه یک لبخند روی لب آدم بشینه و روح پر شَر رو شور زندگی شرقی رو کاملا می‌شه تو خط‌به‌خط کتاب حس کرد.

محور اصلی کتاب، راجع به هنر و خصوصا نقاشیه و مربوط می‌شه به دورانی که اروپا بعد از یک دوره افول طولانی، حالا هنر نقاشی داره دوباره توش اوج می‌گیره و این طرف هم واکنش نقاشان و مذهبیون مسلمان عثمانی نسبت به هنر نقاشی و خصوصا سبک و سیاق غربی نقاشی. طبق معمول، گروه‌های افراطی که از بیخ و بن مخالف نقاشی هستن و مشغول شکستن و زدن و بستن و خورد کردن هستن. گروهی از هنرمندان که معتقدن نباید از روش‌های غربی‌ها استفاده کرد و باید به سنت‌ها و اصول خودمون پایبند باشیم و گروهی که بنظرشون پرسپکتیو اروپایی زیباتره و باید به سمت اون رفت. حالا این‌که فکر کنیم حق با یکی از این‌هاست در واقع اصل و اساس مشکلات همیشگی ما بوده و هست! ای بابا...ا

اگر فصل آخر این کتاب وجود نمی‌داشت و عاقبت هنر و نقاشی اسلامی و نقاش‌هاش رو برامون تعریف نمی‌کرد، من قصد داشتم به کتاب بین 3 تا 4 نمره بدم. اما همین فصل آخر باعث شد که کل کتاب رو یک جور دیگه ببینم. این همه جنجال، این همه کشت‌وکشتار و آخرش هم هیچی. بله! همه ما میدونیم چطور اجاق اون همه علم و هنر، در میان جار و جنجال‌ها و تعصبات کور شد. این کتاب، این همه قصه می‌گه فقط برای همون دو خط آخر و عاقبت نقاش‌خونه دربار عثمانی که یک زمانی از مراکز اصلی هنر در کل جهان بود. برای این‌که به یادمون بندازه چقدر اون تک و توک آدمایی که هدفشون فقط تعالی هنر نقاشی بود، و کاری به کار شرقی و غربی نداشتن، در داستان ما گم‌وگور شدن و اصلا ما تو دسته‌بندیمون یادمون رفت حسابشون بیاریم. چطور درگیر پیدا کردن قاتل و مقتول و حق و باطل شدیم که از اصل هنر فاصله گرفتیم تا اینکه خیلی آروم، پرنده هما از روی شونمون پر زد و رفت... ا

پ.ن: واقعا باید تشکر کرد از اورهان پاموک. انقدر که این آدم به فرهنگ ما ایرانی‌ها با این کتاب خدمت کرده، خود ما در حق پیشینیانمون، قدرشناسی نکردیم

پ.ن2: کتاب خوراک صوتی گوش دادنه. شاید خوندن از روی کتاب، به حجیم بودنش نیارزه
Profile Image for Leslie.
45 reviews
August 2, 2007
Saying I liked it or didn't like it doesn't really capture the complexity of my experience with this book. Part murder mystery, part love story, and part historical novel about the book-art in the ottoman empire....I thought it was right up my alley. Maybe I expected to have more of an emotional connection but it was all very intellectual and somehow that frustrated me...churned up my stomach which was quite contented on the diet of all-fluff, all-the-time. Reading this was like eating roasted beets with rosemary---good for me but i prefer something sweeter, and smoother.

OK, here's my beef:
It often felt like reading a genealogy of islamic stories and historical books which I found tiring; though sitting in the vault of the sultan and perusing these books would be incredible for me, reading about the rich visual imagery was tedious.

I constantly felt like there was something I couldn't access because I don't have the specific background knowledge; but I still can't even form the questions I need for deeper connection. I had the impression that the stories recounted over and over would be mundane (in a comforting way), familiar and meaningful for people from that culture they weren't for me.

The murder mystery kept me reading because I wanted to find out who did it but resentfully, because i kept losing track of the author's clues while trudging through the endless philosophizing.

The conversations about the place of art and artists in relation to their funders, influences, and the contemporary culture; the ways representation can be slippery and dangerous; the questions surrounding seeing, perception, blindness, and divine inspiration vs. a skillful hack job--- all of these are fascinating and relevant to me but such a dry dry dry voice.

And the love story was pffff... like looking through a snow globe at some scenery you couldn't touch.

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