Anna Baillie-Karas's Reviews > The New Life

The New Life by Orhan Pamuk
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it was amazing

The narrator reads a book & goes off to find the meaning of life & win his beloved Janan. Slow to start, I was soon immersed in Pamuk's rich, lyrical prose. His sentences are intricate, but so exact they stop you in your tracks. I love the layers of meaning & imperfect characters.

He handles big themes - obsessive love, fanaticism, east v west - layered with recurring motifs (time, angels, buses) and cherishes everyday objects, described in lists that are achingly real. The collection of objects, and their meaning, is a recurring theme in Pamuk's work (eg in The Museum of Innocence) and I love the care he shows for these things that give texture to our lives.

Other themes that appear in his later work are at play: obsessive and one might say hopeless love (the museum of innocence again); the influence of the West and how young people who seek to preserve their traditions might become radicalised (explored in Silent House); the devotion to books and the process of writing and copying (My Name is Red) and the narrator identifying with a character who goes missing (The Black Book).

The narrator and Janan read 'the book' (we never learn what it is, but it could be analogous to the bible or Koran) & watch many films together, and Pamuk shows the interplay between life and entertainment. This reminded me of Infinite Jest - people read (or watch) to find meaning; the answer to the question of how - or why - to live, someone to save them. The narrator is obsessed with the book.

The 'angel' is portrayed as a mother figure who will enlighten them but also as the angel of death. Perhaps only at the point of death will the narrator know what he wanted to live for.


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Reading Progress

August 23, 2017 – Shelved
August 24, 2017 – Started Reading
August 26, 2017 – Finished Reading

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