The museum of innocence by Orhan Pamuk

Source – library

Translator – Maureen Freely

Orhan Pamuk won the nobel prize in 2006 ,he was the first Turkish citizen to win a nobel prize .he is professor of comparative literature at Columbia university ,he has been at odds at times with his own country about its past he has had a number of books translated into in english by Maureen Freely that has also done the Istanbul memories book and his novel snow .,this book like his book Istanbul memories of a city which I read and I feel probably inspired this book in a lot of ways Istanbul is like an extra character at times

Well Museum of innocence is an epic book ,it has scope and vision it use the Janus like city of Istanbul ,a city torn between the arabic and western world ,between old and new ,also between classes .The book is a history of a love affair between   a lowly shop girl and a much older businessman ,now I know what you are thinking this is going be a book about a dirty old man ,a new Lolita  .W ell no it is a bout true love in its purest sense ,about obsession ,class and society within turkey who are these people ? the lowly shop girl Fusun is beautiful the sort of girl who stops men in the track but she is only a shop girl ,the man is Kemal he is heir ,a man railroad into marriage by expectations of his class to keep the status quo going .so they embark on a 20 year affair ,The clandestine couple meet at an apartment ,this place becomes the home of the museum of innocence as Kemal start converting every thing about Fusun ,he has put this lowly girl on a pedestal ,over the course of the book we see the affair unfold and the collecting of items increase greatly .

During my eight years of going to Keshkins for supper ,I was able to squirrel away 4,213 of Fusun’s cigarette butts .Each one of these had touched her rosy red lips and entered her mouth ,some even touching her tongue and becoming moist ,as I would discover when I put my finger on the filter soon after she had stubbed the cigarette out ,the stub ,reddened by her lovely lipstick bore the unique impression of her lips .

Kermal gathering items for his collection .

This book is the best of the four I ve read by Pamuk ,he even writes himself into the story at a couple of points being observed at some parts .I found this love affair touching and sad touched with the sadness of what should have been in a different world .The apartment is a bit like bridge  that cross the Bosphorus connecting the two parts of the city ,in this case the apartment connects two classes of Istanbul .There is something timeless about the story ,I can see this being popular for a long time due the love ,obsession ,city and characters that make up Museum of innocence .the book is on the IFFP short list

Istanbul the heart of this story .


April 2011


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