A Book A Week Challenge – Week 19

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A Tree faces a conflict of understanding its own purpose – To remain as-is so as to be “meant to provide shade for Mejnun disguised as a shepherd as he visited Leyla in her Tent?” or to allow to be transformed to a paper so as to “fade into the night, representing the darkness in the soul of a wretched and hopeless man?”

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The eternal conflict that an artist had to encounter every time he gets to work is – “what is that I am trying to depict/covey/paint?” – an object or its internal meaning. That perspective is what defines you as an artist.

Book #: 19

Title: My Name is Red” by Orhan Pamuk

Pages: 666

2006 Nobel Prize-Literature Winner Orhan Pamuk’s “My Name is Red” is all about these perspectives. A Historical novel is set in the backdrop of 1591’s Istanbul when Ottoman is at its peak- the artists and painters were commissioned to appreciate the art that would narrate the heroics of the great Sultan. It transpires through the Ottoman era until its downfall with the arrival of the East.

This book on the outset is a thriller novel – about a secrecy that led to the murders of two artists – Elegant and Enishte. Thriller novels often have to encounter this unique risk of walking on a feeble thread- one hard step- one early revelation, one heavy emphasis and all the narration goes to shatters. This challenge is what could make an author a genius or a dud.

Orhan Pamuk definitely knows his art- like all the miniaturists in Ottoman who paint a human body completely independent of one another but to tie them into a great narrative. It is a memoir or historical narration of sorts – the journey of “Black Effendi” since the time he was commissioned to be a part of this book of Sultan till he fights the murderer of artists.

Memoir- about the evolution of Istanbul’s empire – Ottomans and their defeat at Lepanto. It walks through the lifestyles of individuals in the society who had to survive through the personal mishaps and at the same time adjusting to the emerging societal demands.

The book is a first-person narrative that also embeds within itself a second-person perspective on reading the narrative. This is the huge risk for a thriller novel and to do that from a dozen different persons is the masterclass of a writing. Tree, Dog, Gold Coin and most importantly The Color Crimson have their perspectives too. The Color Crimson translates to the title of this novel boasts itself as “As I bring my color to the page, it’s as if I command the world to ‘Be!’ Yes, those who cannot see would deny it, but the truth is that I can be found everywhere.”

666 pages of brilliant writing with 59 chapters narrated through the eyes of 12 different persons – flavored with 9 different perspectives of objects – that were personified with equal brilliance. This is a writer’s delight and reader’s paradise.

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