Top of the Pile #10: Istanbul

Orhan Pamuk is no stranger to me.

Our relationship started with a Romanian translation of Snow I’d found in my favorite bookshop in Cluj (Doesn’t sound familiar? It’s in Romania).

I couldn’t say I liked Snow.

In my case it was one of those books that engulf you (It almost made me miss a train!), you finish it in one go, don’t really know what to say about it straight away, but you find yourself thinking about it afterwards again and again. I remember parts of it perfectly even now, the beautiful descriptions of that strange wintery town and its people, even the cover of the book is fresh in my mind, the toned down snowy landscape and the bloody red accents of the title. I guess you could say it’s really made its mark in my reading history.

It’s no surprise then that my relationship with Pamuk continued, and throughout the years, I’ve added My Name Is Red, The New Life, and The Black Book to my read book pile.

As for Istanbul, my mother was reading it when I visited for Christmas, and said she really really liked it. But I didn’t get my copy from her, nor did I buy it for myself on my Romanian book shopping spree; instead I found it by accident in a used book shop during our weekend away.

It’s bound to be a great read for several reasons. First, it’s a Pamuk book (I seem to have a problem with not setting infinitely high expectations from authors whose writing I’ve enjoyed once or twice before). Then, it’s autobiographical, a first for me and Pamuk (although I guess all literature is indeed somewhat autobiographical, but Istanbul seems to be so on a stronger note). And of course, it’s about Istanbul, a place I’ve been dreaming of visiting ever since I can remember, and I’m secretly hoping this will be the push I need to finally pack up and go.

I’ve only read ten pages on my way to the office this morning, but I’m already enjoying the familiar writing style and I only wish I had the time to finish it in one sitting, as I did Snow. But my grownup life rarely allows me such indulgences. I will keep you posted though, I’m sure I won’t be able to help myself and I’ll be done with it before the end of the week. Social life is overrated anyway.

*

Super duper competitive V. almost killed me on the badminton court yesterday, so by the time we got back home at about 10 PM, I was focusing every speck of energy I had left into breathing in and out somewhat regularly, and wouldn’t have imagined I’d manage to end the night binge reading the rest of The Lowland. But I checked my Kindle and it said I only had an 10% of it to go, so I crashed into bed and spent about an hour trying my best to hold the kindle up, though I wasn’t feeling my arms at all.

The Lowland was a nice read, but I must say I had slightly higher hopes to begin with. (Again the intangible expectations problem.) I don’t know, it just felt a little rushed at times, I somehow felt like I didn’t get to know some characters properly, and I don’t know if I’ll be thinking about the story again. I mean, it wasn’t bad, and it’s definitely not put me off of Jhumpa Lahiri’s writing from now on, but it hasn’t left much of a mark, I guess.

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