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After finishing this book I felt virtuous, relieved Then baffled, irritated, and finally dismissive Other Good Reads reviewers express the desire to like this book, but proceed to be confused, bored, and insecure Most wrap up with the dismal feeling that they didn t GET it, and so didn t succeed in really liking it I felt the same, but in addition was supremely annoyed and turned off by it I m not so good at post modern fiction to begin with, but I decided to leave my bias at the door because I had heard such great things about this author, and Pamuk didn t seem like a bogus poser from what I d read The story is about an expatriate Turkish poet named Ka who leads a solitary and arid life in Frankfurt and travels to a remote village in his homeland, ostensibly to investigate a spate of suicides by religious Muslim women protesting the injunction to remove their head scarves at school He is really there to kindle a romance with a recently divorced woman he knew at university The novel unfolds over three days when the snow has cut off the town from the outside world What transpires is a coup led by a dysfunctional theater troupe, a lot of political intrigue, and much ball batting between secular and religious townspeople Pamuk gives equal billing to every opinion, although they do not differ much in terms of their reductive, inflamed and binary natures, or in ability to capture my interest or sustained attention This is in large part because the protagonist Ka is stunted,childish and infuriating himself, and the writing is both busy and detached The political intrigue and opinions in Snow are not interesting or illuminating, as they do not emanate from fleshed out people, but cardboard cut outs spouting giant, densely packed and tedious word bubbles.Inspiration strikes Ka while in Kars, and he stops to transcribe a series of nineteen poems, whenever they descend on him in perfectly realized form Conveniently they get lost, but a conversation about them between Ka and his paramour goes like this Is it beautiful he asked her a few moments later Yes, it s beautiful said Ipek.Ka read a fewlines aloud and then asked her again, Is it beautiful It s beautiful, Ipek replied.When he finished reading the poem, he asked, So what was it that made it beautiful I don t know, Ipek replied, but I did find it beautiful Did Muhtar her ex ever read you a poem like this Never, she said.Ka began to read the poem aloud again, this time with growing force, but he still stopped at all the same places to ask, Is it beautiful He also stopped at a few new places to say, It really is very beautiful, isn t it Yes, it s very beautiful Ipek replied.To my mind, only a child under ten should ever be indulged in this sort of megalomania, and then only by his mother, but Ka is nowhere punished, ridiculed or even chided for his insufferable personality, and in fact I think we are supposed to admire him as embodying the innocence, purity, pathos and single mindedness that come with being a true artist Margaret Atwood says, in the New York Times Book Review Not only an engrossing feat of tale spinning, but essential reading for our times Pamuk is narrating his country into being This seems to me the best case for why Snow won the Nobel Prize The book makes Turkey legible, as well as digestible, to the West The novel is chock a block with allusions to white western male institutions Kafka, Coleridge, Mann, Nabokov he wrote a lot of stuff in the west, anyway an annoying and intrusive narrator, a novelist named Orhan, whose games of peek a boo get harder and harder to humor, an abysmal, abyssal usage of literary envelopes, a morose and misunderstood genius of a hero who falls desparately in love with a woman he obstinately refuses to lendthan one dimension the sex scenes, incidentally, are some of the most unintentionally off putting I have ever read, and recall the experience almost every woman has been unfortunate to undergo at least once, where she feels she might leave the room, go get some cheesecake and stand in the door frame watching her partner rythmically brutalizing a stack of pillows in laughable ignorance of her whereabouts or even existence Afterwards our hero has the witlessness to add to the injury by calling this essentially masturbatory act love making In fact, this pretty much sums up my response to the whole book. Nine Reasons I strongly disliked this book 1 The author made himself a character in his story I just don t like that I always wonder if they had writer s block and couldn t invent a fictional character to take the reins.2 A snowflake diagram of poetry is involved I ll say no3 The men in this novel are whiny, infantile, and fall in love with every woman they encounter 4 In the same paragraph the female lead character is described as seething in hatred and laughing adoringly at the whiny, infantile male main character.5 This story has no cohesion Things happen to the main character without foreshadowing The exposition that did come was mainly philosophical and seemingly tangential And if I have to read another sentence about whether a Muslim woman should wear a scarf or not or how beautiful and terrifying snow can be, I will go batty.6 I did not understand the motivations behind most of the characters actions This may be because I m ignorant to the social intricacies of the Turkish realm But this book did not help me to care.7 As a fellow poet, I hated that the main character wrote 19 poems throughout the novel, but the reader never got to read any of them This point is explained in the story, but it still bugged me 8 The author inexplicably tried his hardest to make the novel seem like a biography even though A NOVEL is featured prominently on the cover.9 From this novel I am to presume that every Turkish woman is profoundly beautiful and that Turkish men can only drag themselves after these creatures in the hope of being noticed Bonus reason two years later I m still angry I read this book 5 provocative, desolate, yearnful stars 10th Favorite Read of 2017 tie To read Snow is to laugh loudly and cry quietly Kars, a small city in northeast Turkey, a backwater that had glory days and multiple conquerings over the centuries There are Turks, Kurds, Azeris and a few Russians Most of the men are unemployed and spend their days in teahouses discussing politics and religion They are demoralized and oppress their women and children.Ka is a poet of Turkish descent who now lives in Frankfurt and is a political exile He comes to Kars to investigate the suicides of young Muslim women for a German newspaper and becomes embroiled in a world that used to be familiar and now so foreign He is both revered and disdained by the townspeople and falls madly in love with Ipek, an old college friend that is separated from her husband who is running for mayor The plot getsandcomplicated and farcical but not just in a funny way, in a convoluted way that speaks to the nature of identity, ethnic strife, fundamentalism, poverty and gender relations So much happens in three days and you feel the sadness and despair permeate your being along with guffaws at the ridiculousness of men trying to make sense of their world and fear for women who are trying to survive and be safe.The story is complex, beautiful and you reflect on your own existence and wonder if you are living the fullest life that you have available to you.I very much look forward to readingof Mr Pamuk s work. An Aorist CountryReligion is rarely about dogma or belief and almost always about membership in a group and the feeling of belonging it creates Snow is an absurdist novel about religion as community and its communal conflicts.The protagonist, Ka, is a sort of thirty something adolescent who finds himself in a blizzard, in love, in a state ruled by paranoia, and in the midst of a local revolution begun by a provincial theatre group remarkably like a Turkish version of Heinrich Boll s Clown This constitutes his isolated but very god like, omniscient communityIn Kars everyone always knows about everything that s going on But Kars, situated as it is in Eastern Turkey, is hardly a single community Its history is Russian, and Iranian, and Ottoman, and even a bit of English Its inhabitants are Kurds, and Armenians, and Georgians and Azeris as well as Turks And even among the ethnic Turks there are as many communities as there are distinctive interpretations of Islam.Each of these communities, according to their members, is created by God Various physical aspects of the Karsian world evoke God for the various communities For example,Snow reminds Ka of GodParticularly its silence But this is his community mainly because after living as an emigre in Germany for so many years, he has no other In Kars, he finds solace mainly because he has discovered empathywith someone weaker than himself,namely the poor, uneducated, confused provincial Turkish folk But that isn t how the locals see things.The locals have a variety of religious communities from which to choose, ranging from radical Islam to secularist atheism This latter term is not one of belief but of membershipthat word doesn t refer to people who don t believe in God it refers to the lonely ones, the people whom the gods have abandonedThat is, those who have no community.Most of the local communities have a common enemy the state The state, since the destruction of the Ottoman Empire, has attempted to replace rather than include local communities within itself But it is merely a source of what we have come to know in the age of Trump as fake news Moreover, also as in the Trumpian vein, the state is an aspiring religion, with the sovereign power that all other religions would like to have It uses this power and legal violence to present a binary choice to the populationMy Fatherland or My Headscarf The intractable conflict created by this situation isn t new in Turkey nor for that matter in America It existed even in the Empire In part Pamuk expresses this through constant historical flashbacks and frequent narrative references likelater I found outoreventually we learned But he also captures the repetitive character of Turkish life through an ingenious literary technique that probably can t be rendered exactly in English.Like Classical Greek, Turkish has a verb form, the Aorist or Habitual, which, although expressed in English, isn t explicit The Aorist aspect is one of timeless repetition It connotes past and future as well as present The sense of the Aorist can be shown most simply in the crude English expression shit happens It doesn t just happen now it has always happened and it always will Turkey is the ancient, empoverished, embattled city of Kars, writ large, with itsendless wars, rebellions, massacres and atrocitiesShit just keeps happening.The American version hasn t been written yet but it s long overdue. Kar Snow, c2002, Orhan PamukSnow Turkish Kar is a novel by Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk Published in Turkish in 2002, it was translated into English by Maureen Freely and published in 2004 The story encapsulates many of the political and cultural tensions of modern Turkey and successfully combines humor, social commentary, mysticism, and a deep sympathy with its characters Ka is a poet, who returns to Turkey after 12 years of political exile in Germany He has several motives, first, as a journalist, to investigate a spate of suicides but also in the hope of meeting a woman he used to know Heavy snow cuts off the town for about three days during which time Ka is in conversation with a former communist, a secularist, a fascist nationalist, a possible Islamic extremist, Islamic moderates, young Kurds, the military, the Secret Service, the police and in particular, an actor revolutionary In the midst of this, love and passion are to be found Temporarily closed off from the world, a farcical coup is staged and linked melodramatically to a stage play The main discussion concerns the interface of secularism and belief but there are references to all of Turkey s twentieth century history 2016 1386 624 9789644425608 1385 687 9647656572 21. The expatriate poet Ka returns to his native Turkey ostensibly to investigate a growing number of suicides among head scarf girls for an article in a German newspaper, but actually to reconnect with the beautiful divorcee Ipek whom he knew in college While there, he is caught up in religious and political intrigue I thought the book was too long, and the characters didn t interest me much, but I really liked the way Nobel prize winner Pamuk creates the atmosphere of the small city of Kars and its many kinds of people during a great snowstorm I also liked the way he portrays the Islamists of Turkish culture and the secular revolutionaries and artists as well as fiercely Romantic individualists who are angry at the West above all other things because we refuse to recognize and respect the individuality of their religious passion. .FREE BOOK ⚖ Kar ⚔ From The Award Winning Author Of My Name Is Red Comes This Political Thriller AfterYears In Germany, A Poet Ka Returns To Istanbul For His Mother S Funeral In A Dangerous Political Atmosphere, The Truth Concerning The Poet And The Snow Covered Old World City Of Kars Is Revealed view spoiler In a lot of ways, Snow isn t much different from some of Pamuk s other novels Ka wanders around Kars just as Galip wanders around Istanbul in The Black Book, and Ka s vacillation between acute perception of others and paralytic insecurities about himself is straight from Black in My Name is Red It s almost as though Pamuk keeps writing the same novel over and over a novel about how men define themselves, particularly those men who discover they no longer seem to fit into the very physical space they occupy in this case, Ka can t decide if he can still be Turkish after living in Germany for so many years.It isn t a question that the book ends up answering, either Ka returns to Turkey only to discover that writing doesn t make it any easier to deal with the decisions he finds himself making throughout his stay in Kars does he believe in God or not Does he love Ipek or not Should he stay in Turkey or not Does he support Westernization or not It would be easy to reduce this novel to a story in which East meets West through the figure of Ka, but the novel seems to be muchinterested not in that intersection, but in what occurs when one tries to write about that intersection In fact, this is a novel made up entirely of all kinds of writing newspaper articles, play productions, poems, speeches, video recordings, and Ka s notes All these are filtered through the narrator, who is attempting to locate Ka in those very documents as though if one could simply find the green notebook, or discover the meaning of the snowflake diagram then one could concretely define Ka s identity The end result is a rather nasty joke Orhan Pamuk the narrator spends ages collecting all the bits of paper that comprise the life of Ka and then spends eventime piecing it all together, only to come up with not much Ka is not a terribly interesting person He s a washed up poet and a crappy lover The intense focus on identity leads only to a dead end in which Ka cannot be recovered through writing, just as the events in Kars cannot be explained or understood through the novel.Ka s motivations, his misogyny, and his indifference to others generally go unremarked by the narrator, causing the reader to wonder where, exactly, the narrator s fascination with Ka comes from It is, of course, an ironic fascination in becoming so wrapped up in Ka and Ka s actions, the narrator has failed to understand the underlying problems in the system and in the coup there is no right side in this novel the secularists, the Kurdish Nationalists, the Islamic fundamentalists, the Westernized Turkish exiles, the ex Communists are all simply passing around the same system of power It is a system and one that Ka participates in throughout the novel in which women become icons for men, just as Ipek is an icon for Ka As a result, the initial story that brings Ka to Kars the suicide girls drops out of the narrative until even Kadife becomes fed up with it This story fizzles out as Kadife neatly sums it all up I m sick of hearing men talking about why suicide girls commit suicide It is this story this initial narrative that Ka sympathizes with but does not apply in his own life that provides the keys to the other stories of isolation, social pressure, and political coercion But the suicide girls end up forgotten in this book as the men talk about them to the point of rendering those women only stories.I like Pamuk s novels, but I find them very difficult to read They are slow, philosophical, and the main character is often so contradictory as to be slippery This novel doesn t have the same type of experimental structure as My Name is Red the narrative framework issubtle But I think that given the focus on writing Ka cannot discover himself through his poems, Orhan Pamuk cannot discover Ka through the novel, and no one can figure out the suicide girls , identity and politics, this strategy is better hide spoiler Pamuk s description of the delicate and frequently upset balance between secular and religious fanaticism in modern Turkey is a gripping story It is told from a pseudo autobiographical viewpoint like DFW s The Pale King and follows the mis adventures of the exiled poet Ka in his return to a town visited in his youth near the Armenian and Georgian borders of eastern Anatolia The characters are drawn in a deeply compelling manner and there is so much happening that one is surprised at the relatively short lapse of time covered by the events in the book While primarily a narrative, it sheds essential light on the struggles against radical Islam and is evenrevelant now in light of the failed coup in Turkey in July 2016. Written in 2002, this novel predates Pamuk s winning of the Nobel Prize in 2006 The main character is a Turkish emigre, one of many who live in Germany He is returning home after years away We are told he ran into political difficulties with his poetry and decided to leave Turkey He returns to Turkey ostensibly for his mother s funeral, but he has also learned through the grapevine that an old flame of his is now divorced His instinct is that this journey will change his life Once back in Turkey, when he needs a reason to stay on, he tells people he is a journalist doing a story on the headscarves suicides A number of young women have committed suicide in Kars Depending on folks political perspective, they killed themselves because they were devout Moslems banned from wearing headscarves in public or because of their dire poverty or because they were forced by their families to marry old men or because they faced lives of virtual slavery to abusive men bearing children, cooking and scrubbing A good part of the story centers on the production and delivery of a play about headscarves They state sponsored play comes across as reminiscent of the type of thing put on in Mao s China that everyone had to attend Kars, where the novel is set, is a real city in the northeast corner of Turkey, near Georgia, and Armenia and not far from the Caucasus Mountains and Russia thus the severe winter weather of the title Its nearness to many borders has also given it a complex ethnic and political history, with Greeks, Georgians, Kurds and Persians in its past and present Abandoned Russian and Armenian mansions and other buildings figure in the story One theme is that the city is down and out, destitute really, by passed by the modern economy It seems like twenty times the narrator walks the snow filed streets and tells us he looks in on the teahouses filled with unemployed men smoking themselves to death During his visit, a week long snowstorm paralyzes the city In fact the snow receives so much emphasis that it make it almost what I like to call an environmental novel like The Shipping News where the environment is almost a character in the novel.So the narrator is a small time poet Are there any big time poets left He s hit a dry spell but his muse strikes in Kars and he writes a series of poems, or, we are told, they write themselves through his hands in a trance like state But he s very analytical for a poet we re shown a geometric diagram he creates to show the relationships among his poems He s also obsessed with examining his level of happiness, deliberately trying to improve his happiness, and we all know where that leads.There s a lot of political intrigue Turkey is struggling to remain a Moslem, yet secular state There is a lot of police tyranny and censorship The prisons offer equal opportunity confinement and torture for Kurds, communists, and Islamic fundamentalists three days, that s all it takes, three days and they re dead gone, shot, forgotten We are told fairly early in the story that the poet was assassinated after his return to Germany and that any number of groups could have been responsible.The narrator makes a point of telling us about his beliefs in a geometry of opposites We see this several times his old flame has a sister one sister is very modern and one a fundamentalist We have atheists and religious fanatics We are told that old Marxists and communists make good religious zealots when they convert Two fundamentalist religious boys are halves of each other and when one is shot by the army, the other feels that part of the murdered youth has been reincarnated in him the living youth The poet s biographer who narrates parts of the story after the poet is assassinated says that at times he feels he is becoming the now dead poet One intriguing theme discussed a couple of times Are strongly held religious and political beliefs a luxury for the rich Or are they the only consolation available to the poor The blurbs are right in telling us this is a very political novel It s dense with themes, and overly long it could be cut by a third but still a good read.