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Reading My Name is Red (Orhan Pamuk streak)

1carered

I continue my Orhan Pamuk streak with a title more known to the Western readership, My Name is Red, a murder mystery set in 16th century Istanbul. The opening chapter, intriguingly, is narrated by a corpse:

I am nothing but a corpse now, a body at the bottom of a well. Though I drew my last breath long ago and my heart has stopped beating, no one, apart from that vile murderer, knows what’s happened to me. As for that wretch, he felt for my pulse and listened for my breath to be sure I was dead, then kicked me in the midriff, carried me to the edge of the well, raised me up and dropped me below.

The motive of the murder is not monetary, but religious. The premise of the book is relevant of the crisis we fave today. A Sultan commissions a book celebrating the glories of his realm. The artists are to illuminate the work in the European style. But because the figurative art can be deemed an affront to Islam and a deviation from Allah’s perspective, this commission is a dangerous proposition. One of the miniaturists is found dead. This book is ambitious in its scope: part fantasy, part history, and part philosophy. It’s at root a mystery but not exactly plot-driven.

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