Silent House by Orhan Pamuk


Silent House by Orhan Pamuk

Turkish Fiction

Original title Sessiz Ev

Translator Robert Finn

Source – Personnel copy

Well I ve read four Pamuk Novels before this one and as is the case in the world of translation ,I’ve read them out-of-order of publications in Turkish I start with my name is read followed by Snow then Back to an earlier book Whit Castle ,then his latest the Museum of Innocence.Now this has arrived in English and was the second novel written by Orhan Pamuk , but is the ninth to be published in English and the first to be translated by Robert Finn .I have previously mention a lot about Pamuk in the other books I reviewed ,he is Turkeys best known writer and has won the Nobel prize for literature .This book is a double hit for me as it is the fourth from the Man Asian Short-list I ‘ve read but also the tenth book I ve reviewed from this year’s independent foreign fiction prize .

But tomorrow they’ll come and I’ll think again . Hello ,hello how are you ,they’ll kiss my hand ,many happy returns ,how are you ,Grandmother ,how are you ,how are you , Grandmother ? I’ll take a look at them .Don’t all talk at once ,come here let me have a look at you ,come close ,tell me what you have been doing ? I know I’ll be asking to be fooled and I’ll listen blankly to a few words of description!

Fatima the night before the hoards descend on here

So Silent House well the title is a bit of joke because this is anything but a book about silence or a silent house .The book is set in the early eighties a turbulent time in Turkey and we are with Fatima and yes at start as she await the hoards to descend (her extended family of grandchildren to arrive for the summer ).The family arrive one by one and each member of the family is like a jigsaw piece as they arrive we learn a bit more about the family ,but also about turkey as a whole as each one of her grandchildren represent a different face of turkey Faruk is the idealist a troubled historian ,the sister Nilgun that is part of a new elite in turkey with money ,a drop-out ,a right-winger ,As they arrive the hose becomes very vocal and the house becomes a micro version of The turkey of the time .The book is set in 1980 just a coup is in the offering .

It’s well after midnight ,but I can still hear them moving about what could they be doing down there ,why don’t they go to sleep and leave me the silent night ? I get out of bed ,walk over to the window ,and look down :Recap’s ;light is still on ,lighting up the garden:what are you doing there ,dwarf ? It’s frighting ! he’s so sneaky ,that one every once in a while I catch him giving me a look ,and I realize he notices everything about me , watching the smallest gestures ,

The house is loud and what does Recap the dwarf know ?

Where does this lie in the body of Pamuk’s work ,well it is very different as one would imagine with a second novel .The book is a book of voices but also a clever way of discussing the turkey of the time without Pamuk using his own voice as he uses the myriad of character in this book to show the troubles with in his own country ,but also to show how these troubles affect people on a personal every day level .The children also in there own ways show how politics effect people in different way , burying your head in the bottle ,being to rich too notice troubles ,joining a gang of fascists and following the latest causes .Then there is Fatima her self the sort of women that runs a large family in her ninties but has the respect of all and she also has a dwarf servant Recap .I did enjoy this more than I have recent Pamuk novels .Now the question is would this have been better published at the time ,part of me thinks yes then another part thinks it is still happening turkey is still a country with many faces and problems of its own and the book still shows how far they have come and how far they have to go .

Have you read this book ?

Do you have a favourite Orhan Pamuk ? mine is my name is red

24 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Parrish
    Mar 09, 2013 @ 13:41:52

    Although I have “My Name is Red” I have yet to have read anything by this writer. You are definitely cracking your way through the IFFP list, I’ve just finished reading my third & about to start Satantango.


  2. gaskella
    Mar 09, 2013 @ 13:45:44

    I’ve only read ‘Snow’ and sadly I didn’t get on with it.


  3. Brian Joseph
    Mar 09, 2013 @ 15:41:16

    Sounds really good. One thing that I thought about when reading your commentary was the variety of philosophies and viewpoints that can spring up within a family.


  4. Lisa Hill
    Mar 09, 2013 @ 18:29:06

    I’ve liked everything I’ve read by Pamuk, but weirdly, the only one I haven’t read yet is My Name is Red!


  5. Vishy
    Mar 09, 2013 @ 18:48:42

    Nice review, Stu! I saw this in the bookshop a couple of weeks back, but I didn’t get it. I haven’t read a Pamuk novel yet, though I have ‘My Name is Red’ and ‘Istanbul’ on my bookshelf. I hope to get them someday. It is interesting that ‘Silent House’ is his second novel. It must be strange that his second novel is published only now in English.


    • winstonsdad
      Mar 10, 2013 @ 20:49:05

      Yes he didn’t get publish til White Castle his third book in English not sure why it’s taken to now know Murakami isn’t keen to have
      His first two books available to a wider audience not sure if that is case with Pamuk all the best stu


  6. creativepalabras
    Mar 09, 2013 @ 20:15:37

    I like your review, it has roused my interest in this author.


  7. whisperinggums
    Mar 10, 2013 @ 03:52:07

    I’ve read Pamuk. I loved Snow and Istanbul (his non-fiction memoir of a city – it’s my favourite). I could not get into My name is red so it still sits in my TBF pile (ie To Be Finished!)


    • winstonsdad
      Mar 10, 2013 @ 20:50:13

      My name is red is maybe his most experimental book I feel with its duffer bet points of view in it all the best stu


      • whisperinggums
        Mar 10, 2013 @ 21:56:04

        Thanks stu … I can’t remember why I put it down … Except that it was too dense at the time. And I couldn’t commit the time to it … I was intrigued though and have always planned to come back …

  8. whisperinggums
    Mar 10, 2013 @ 03:54:20

    Oh and I meant to comment on the order of publishing translations. It means we non-original language readers get to “see” an author in a different light. Of course, we don’t always authors in our own language in publishing order but with non-English language authors we don’t even get the choice do we?


  9. Bellezza
    Mar 10, 2013 @ 04:40:01

    Isn’t it frustrating to be at the mercy of the translation/publication date? I, too, have read Snow (which I loved) and Musem of Innocence (which became tedious after a fascinating beginning), and I’m looking forward to Silent House even if it’s anything but silent. Certainly the 80s were quite turbulent times; I remember my husband stationed in Germany when the wall was still up. We were constantly hearing of bombing from the Baader Meinhof gang, and Khadafi, more than trouble from the East Germans. I can’t imagine what Turkey was experiencing then…


    • winstonsdad
      Mar 10, 2013 @ 20:51:52

      Yes books tend get published when a they won a prize or b get an editor or person In English publishing eye but wish they would make sure we get earlier books of major writers sooner all the best stu


  10. jacquiwine
    Mar 10, 2013 @ 08:30:40

    Great review, Stu. As per our chat about it on twitter, I read Silent House in January and it has stayed with me. I really liked the way Pamuk builds a picture of Turkey through the different voices and experiences of the characters. I loved Fatma’s sections of the book – her character was so well drawn. I would have liked to have heard Nilgun’s perspective, but I can understand why this is absent.
    As you say, many of the themes and issues still feel relevant today. I haven’t read many of his books – only ‘The White Castle’. I’d like to read more at some point, perhaps ‘Snow’ or ‘My Name is Red’?


    • winstonsdad
      Mar 10, 2013 @ 20:53:11

      I felt Fatima must been pamuks gran she was so well drawn as a character I felt this is a book that could have easily been double the length all the best stu


  11. Claire 'Word by Word'
    Mar 10, 2013 @ 10:45:54

    I think Snow is my favourite, The Museum of Innocence was more than a read, it was an experience of obsession and often felt like a test of the reader’s patience to stick with it’s repetition of events. That said, I’d like to visit Pamuk’s obsession, the actual museum he created, when I visit Istanbul for the first time this year and will be reading Istanbul in preparation for that.


    • winstonsdad
      Mar 10, 2013 @ 20:54:17

      I d live to host that as well Claire love idea of doing it after he wrote the book he is such a talented writer always look forward to his new translations all the best stu


  12. Trackback: Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2013 (Shadow Jury combined reviews) | ANZ LitLovers LitBlog
  13. Trackback: A strangeness in my mind by Orhan Pamuk | Winstonsdad's Blog

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March 2013


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