Christine's Reviews > Istanbul: Memories and the City

Istanbul by Orhan Pamuk
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it was amazing
bookshelves: literature-turkish, poc-author-artist, history-turkey

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 Philadelphia has of being mashed between N.Y. and D.C. (Though in this day and age, it is a good thing that everyone forgets about us).

The book is part biography and part meditation on culture and its feeling of lost youth and innocence carries though to The Museum of Innocence. There are some places in the novel where you will laugh out aloud, for example where Pamuk apolgies to everyone he imagined killing or dying. There are also some extremely moving passages, not just in describing his family, or the feeling of Istanbul, but his only place in society.

I do wish, however, that more infromation about the pictures was given and I do wish that they had captions.
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Reading Progress

January 3, 2011 – Started Reading
January 3, 2011 – Shelved
January 7, 2011 – Finished Reading
June 21, 2018 – Shelved as: literature-turkish
July 23, 2018 – Shelved as: poc-author-artist
December 28, 2018 – Shelved as: history-turkey

Comments Showing 1-12 of 12 (12 new)

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Kelly I totally agree about this book and the Museum of Innocence. I found I preferred this one to MoI. You?


Christine I think, at this point, I'm seeing them as one book. Istanbul feeds into MoI. Maybe a slight edge to this one. Maybe.


Kelly I think, at this point, I'm seeing them as one book.

He's been writing the same book for twenty years, I think. Istanbul is so deeply amazing because he finally strips away the coverings from it and tells us why.


Christine Really? I've only read two book so far. But I have Black Book. Snow and another one (red something) are coming via paperbackswap.


Kelly Sorry I'm just seeing this now, but I really like both of those two books you've ordered. Snow has some very insightful points to make with beautiful language, is Important from a political point of view, and is wonderful atmospherically, but can be a bit slow. My Name is Red (I think that's the "red something") is probably his masterpiece from a literary technique point of view but if you don't like acrobatics in your prose, you might want to try Snow first.


Christine That's the Red one, yep.


message 7: by Best Eggs (new)

Best Eggs Istanbul was one of the more impressive cities I've ever been to architecturally-speaking, although the hygiene and the men were really the pits, the worst ever, so I don't know if I'd want to read a paean of praise about the place. I would like to read some Pamuk at some point but I've never been able to maintain interest to even read a second page.


Kelly so I don't know if I'd want to read a paean of praise about the place

I don't really think that's how I'd describe this, for what it's worth. Pamuk has a complicated relationship with the city and sees its faults- the book is as much about him and his family as it is about the city.


Christine I'll second Kelly. Pamuk makes me want to go not because he makes it sound like the perfect city, but because it sounds, in a strange way, like Philly. He makes the city interesting because it describes it faults, warts, and all. It is no where near a paen of praise, though he does seem to love the city, as well as be conflicted over it.


message 10: by Doğan (new)

Doğan Come to İstanbul =)


Christine Well, I want to, just needs some more funds.


Shoaib Sumar I certainly agree with your observation. I read The Museum of Innocence a few months ago and found it a little too melancholic for my taste. However, after reading (and loving) Istanbul: Memories and the City, I realise just how special both books are. Pamuk is a contemplative genius.


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