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The Black Book Paperback – Jul 11 2006

4.6 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Rep Tra edition (July 11 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400078652
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400078653
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.4 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #102,233 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Set in Istanbul, Turkish novelist Pamuk's latest is an elaborate and darkly comic meditation on identity.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Well-known Turkish novelist Pamuk's last effort, The White Castle, got raves from everyone but LJ (2/15/91). So why break with tradition? Often compared to Italo Calvino, Pamuk is not so stylized; this book is steeped in the scents and sights of Istanbul and is in fact very specific. But imagery and detail will not suffice to keep most readers reading, and the story of attorney Galip and his missing wife, Ruya, is allowed to drag despite an interesting intrigue that has Galip-suspicious that Ruya is hiding with her half-brother, a popular journalist-assume the identity of the half-brother with unfortunate consequences. Only the stalwart will make it to the end. Demand? The last circulation dates of the three copies of The White Castle in our system are 5/91, 7/91, and 4/93. Recommended for collections especially strong in international fiction.
Robert E. Brown, Onondaga Cty. P.L., Syracuse, N.Y.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Halfway through this book I had an incredible urge to hurl it at the wall. But I paid for it, so I forced myself to finish it. I was sorry that I forced myself. It was depressing. I don't understand how people can rave about this book. A history and geography lesson of Istanbul would have been much more interesting. Pamuk abandoned the usual formula of entertaining the reader, instead creating some sort of literary experiment. I hated it. Don't buy it.
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Format: Paperback
What am I to do, oh readers, for I do not recognize myself. I have read the Black Book and am transformed. I am neither nihilist, absorbing the dark fruit of the Black Book's heart-rending conclusion, nor anarchist, for surely the Black Book shows the bitter fruit of living under half-lit regimes.
I am no modernist, for the Black Book details the past's ragged insistence to be recalled. Nor am I traditionalist; the author, Orhan Pamuk, here illustrates the folly of doctrinaire belief, whether it be secular, political, religious or even, (God help us), romantic.
These and more are some of the themes flowing Orhan Pamuk's feverish pen. I could be sure if more of his work could enjoy translation(hint!). In a magazine article, Mr. Pamuk described Istanbul, the place setting of this novel, as having, "no symmetry, no sense of geometry, no two lines in parallel." The same can also be said of the Black Book's plot.
Though I am neither hedonist, feminist, satirist or cynic, nor even lotus-eater, I am wistfully numinous. The book (happily for me), is filled with Sufi ("Hurufi") references to Islamic numerology and mystic sensibility. This delicate, dark thread inspires in me, the same passion for Mr. Pamuk, that the book's character, an elusive essayist named Jelal, enjoys among his readers in the book. This is marvelously written fiction.
Jelal's weary fixation with the absurd compels him to capture Istanbul's madness into daily columns depicted throughout the book. His essays rightfully become the stuff of national obsession. The chapter entitled, "The Day the Bosphorus Dries Up," is alone worth the price of the book.
Ruya (meaning "dream") is the book's missing link.
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Format: Paperback
This is an extremely complex ,and at times, difficult novel to read. For a Turk or someone familiar with Istanbul, some of the" stories within a story" may be fascinating. However for a non-Turk this book was more frustrating than attempts to read Marcel Proust. The scenes described are often hallucinatory, and subsequent narration of the same incident through different eyes, leaves you with the feeling that you have lost your place, and are re-reading the same material with a misunderstanding of what you are positive you had read and understood earlier.
The book is about identity, alienation and the art of writing . The author's intent to mislead the reader is deliberate. Like Galip, the main character of the novel , you are constantly forced to re-evaluate that which you were quiet confident that you understood the first time around. Ultimately it becomes too disorientating, and tiresome. I have no doubt that "The Black Book" is considered a Great Novel. However Pamuk's style, in translation, makes this work very difficult and less than rewarding to read.
The story of the Mannequin Maker however is very haunting, and it is this/those segment(s) of the novel which I will always remember and rediscover in memory.
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Format: Paperback
Why bother reading stories? In part to escape ourselves, maybe in hopes of discovering ourselves. "The Black Book" is an intricate meditation on the act of reading that explores both sides of our urge for stories in obsessive detail.
The surface plot involves Galip's search for his missing wife and her half-brother Jelal, a famous Turkish columnist. But the deeper meaning of the story concerns the fact that every story has deeper meanings. As Galip's hunt progresses, the chaos of modern Istanbul promises to organize itself into the key to unlocking a larger mystery whose solution would make every detail of life carry meaning, turning the world itself into literature. As far as I can make out, for Pamuk this literary apocalypse would be equivalent to the Messiah's return and to each of us being reborn at last as ourselves, instead of living as hopeless imitations of our heroes from novels and movies.
Just as Galip discovers that Jelal, his own hero, cribbed his columns from older tales, Pamuk's readers gradually realize that Galip's story is a serpentine riff on the Islamic classics, as his search for Jelal and Ruya comes to parallel the Sufi quest for union with God. The Seeker becomes the Sought, Galip becomes Jelal, the reader becomes the author. The burden of postmodernity, Pamuk seems to say, is to realize that we are author, Messiah and reader rolled up in one, with the world as our text to fashion meanings for.
My one criticism is that Pamuk's tale feels a little too familiar, built around themes like the flux of identity, the absence of fixed meanings, the illusion of originality and the self-referential nature of literature that have already been ridden pretty hard by writers from Borges to Eco.
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