Middle East/North African Lit discussion

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requests and questions > The Cairo Trilogy and My Name is Red

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message 1: by Ru (new)

Ru (rurucake) | 10 comments My colleague lent the Cairo trilogy to me and I really wanted to enjoy it but couldn’t get past the first 100 or so pages. I didn’t find it particularly gripping and perhaps the 1000 pages overwhelmed me. What does everyone think?

Also the same colleague lent me My Name is Red, Orhan Pamuk (Turkish writer) and although the writing is very rich I’m not gripped by this either, nor the style where it switches from one character to another. It’s a little frustrating.

Perhaps I should stop taking recommendations from this colleague 😆


message 2: by Jalilah (new)

Jalilah | 792 comments Ru wrote: "My colleague lent the Cairo trilogy to me and I really wanted to enjoy it but couldn’t get past the first 100 or so pages. I didn’t find it particularly gripping and perhaps the 1000 pages overwhel..."

I adored the Cairo Trilogy and have read it twice. Perhaps it helped that during this time period I was traveling regularly to Egypt?

After I read The Museum of Innocence I was so turned off Orhan Pamuk's writing that I never even thought about reading My Name Is Red!


ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 492 comments Caveat emptor, if you read My Name Is Red, you may fall in love with miniature paintings! #justsayyin


message 4: by Ru (new)

Ru (rurucake) | 10 comments Jalilah wrote: "Ru wrote: "My colleague lent the Cairo trilogy to me and I really wanted to enjoy it but couldn’t get past the first 100 or so pages. I didn’t find it particularly gripping and perhaps the 1000 pag..."
What is it you like about the Cairo Trilogy? I have been Cairo a few times before and do love it. I'm finding it a bit slow... would you say it's eventful?


message 5: by Jalilah (new)

Jalilah | 792 comments ReemK10 (Paper Pills) wrote: "Caveat emptor, if you read My Name Is Red, you may fall in love with miniature paintings! #justsayyin"

Maybe? Have you read Museum of Innocence, and if so how does it compare?


ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 492 comments I haven't. It's the only Orhan Pamuk I've read.


message 7: by Niledaughter (last edited Jul 20, 2020 03:05AM) (new)

Niledaughter | 2794 comments Mod
Ru
welcome onboard!

I think the only common thing between the two books is Nobel Prize, Mahfouz is so different from Pamuk. :)
I read Cairo trilogy when I was a teenager, so so long ago, I need to reread it! It is a family saga, I remember the story but not the writing details. Each part handles a generation, in a new street in fatmic Cairo, with deep transformations of the characters. I enjoyed "The Harafish by Maffouz the most.
I liked "Snow" for Pamuk. But like Jalila, I could not finish neither "My name is Red" nor " Museum of Innocence", I may try again.


message 8: by Tamara (new)

Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 343 comments Ru wrote: "Also the same colleague lent me My Name is Red, Orhan Pamuk (Turkish writer) and although the writing is very rich I’m not gripped by this either, nor the style where it switches from one character to another. It’s a little frustrating."

I read Pamuk's My Name Is Red a couple of years ago, and I loved it. I loved everything about it, including the labyrinthine journey he takes us on and his description of miniature paintings, as ReemK10 mentioned in #3. I keep meaning to pick up another of his novels.

I think it's great that people have such different tastes in reading. Otherwise, it would make for a very dull world.

I recently finished Last Train to Istanbul by another Turkish author. I was looking forward to it because it received some great reviews and recommendations. I was very disappointed. I thought the story had great potential but it was poorly written and poorly executed.


message 9: by aj (last edited Jul 17, 2020 09:30AM) (new)

aj (muchlibrary) | 12 comments I love both the The Cairo Trilogy: Palace Walk / Palace of Desire / Sugar Street and My Name Is Red, but they are very different types of writing. Fwiw, I found My Name is Red to be very different from Pamuk's other novels, which I didn't enjoy as much.

I saw that you've rated Elif Shafak highly, and perhaps you would prefer more women writers? Both Mahfouz and Pamuk tend to write in the male gaze. You might like Hanan Al-Shaykh, Radwa Ashour, or Ahdaf Soueif... I know I'm missing some important names here...


message 10: by Melanie, Marhaba Language Expertise (new)

Melanie (magidow) | 647 comments Mod
@Tamara I agree with you, it's wonderful that there is such diversity in writing and in readers. It's very common for me to not enjoy a book, and find that one or more readers in this group enjoyed it fully. Even the same book can bring a different reaction at different times. When I first read My Name Is Red, I had been wanting to read it for some time. I was eager to think critically about it, and enjoyed giving it time and thought. Years later, I picked it up again, and never finished it. It turns out that my first reading had been an especially opportune time for me to read it.

The Cairo Trilogy is a beloved classic for many, but for me, there are other novels I'd rather read. I read Last Train to Istanbul recently and found it interesting, engaging, and a valuable contribution in terms of history and common perceptions of the Holocaust.

For those who want some direction regarding what to read, when I first joined Goodreads, I benefited from the suggestions (You can rate books to get suggestions, calculated by Goodreads algorithms). It didn't take long for my to-read list to fill up!


message 11: by Ru (new)

Ru (rurucake) | 10 comments Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! It’s so delightful to join a forum to discuss books!! It’s my first post. Anyhow, it’s been interesting to read your posts and recommendations so thank you. Agreed, it’s great we all have different tastes and it’s fascinating to read that people actually enjoyed it (lol). Also, there’s definitely some truth to the point around reading a book at the right time. Perhaps I’ll give both books ago at a later date.


message 12: by Lily (last edited Jul 24, 2020 01:44PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 27 comments ReemK10 (Paper Pills) wrote: "Caveat emptor, if you read My Name Is Red, you may fall in love with miniature paintings! #justsayyin"

That is the best gift I received from MNIR -- I have listened to the book twice and still don't "get" it. If I try it again, it shall have to be a hard copy, probably with a reader's guide. But researching miniatures while reading it, I found a lovely, lovely journey. (I own both the paperback and the audio.)

The politics Pamuk explicates -- well, I don't know enough to understand it. My f2f book group struggled with SNOW years ago.


ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 492 comments Hi Lily! I haven't seen you in quite awhile. I would think that there very well could be a disconnect listening to it as an audio book. But, if you've listened twice, and you didn't enjoy it, move on. Many more books to read! Cheers! Good to see you again!


message 14: by Jalilah (new)

Jalilah | 792 comments Tamara wrote: "Ru wrote: "Also the same colleague lent me My Name is Red, Orhan Pamuk (Turkish writer) and although the writing is very rich I’m not gripped by this either, nor the style where it switches from on..."

I really enjoyed Last Train to Istanbul! The writing drew me in and I learned about a chapter of history I did not know anything about!

Ru wrote: "Jalilah wrote: "Ru wrote: "My colleague lent the Cairo trilogy to me and I really wanted to enjoy it but couldn’t get past the first 100 or so pages. I didn’t find it particularly gripping and perh..."

Sorry, I just realized I never answered your question!
What did I love about the Cairo trilogy? So much! The characters ( and they were not all likeable at all, in fact most are very faulted), the relationships and how they are often formed by society's structure. Close to my heart the ambivalent relationship Egyptians have with entertainers, particularly female ones. Also one of the times I read the the entire trilogy I was actually staying in Egypt. I used to walk around the area where the story takes place ( which is probably my favourite area in Cairo, known sometimes as Islamic Cairo and the less touristy part of Khan El Khalili.) imagining what it might have been like back then. The dialog. Even though I read it in English I enjoy so much the way Egyptians talk.


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