Review by Booklist Review
The Turkish Nobel laureate's previous novel, The Museum of Innocence (2009), garnered considerable praise in the U.S. Now a novel published in his native land in 1983 is appearing in English for the first time. The publisher's probable hesitancy in bringing it out of storage is not surprising. Readers familiar with and fond of the provocative psychology and the defining social pictures presented in the author's works previously translated into English will likely face disappointment here. It is nearly certain that American readers will feel inadequate in fixing the narrative into its historical context and in understanding its political atmosphere, which Pamuk hints is about to change. Questions will remain. What exactly is the political atmosphere, and what kind of change is in the air? That said, the premise a family gathers for a summer visit in the faded seaside resort of Cennethisar brings together a handful of characters with great potential for being interesting, foremost among them, the clan's elder, the old widow Fatima, whose life is now led mostly in her mind, and Recep, her servant, a dwarf who also happens to be the illegitimate son of her late physician husband. The narrative alternates among various characters' points of view, but what limits their full embrace by non-Turkish readers is their lack of anchorage in a readily identifiable time and place. Nevertheless, librarians should expect some demand based on the popularity of Pamuk's previous work.--Hooper, Brad Copyright 2010 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
In this first English publication of an early novel by the Nobel laureate, nonagenarian widow Fatma Darvinoglu lives in the eponymous house, a derelict villa in a seaside village near Istanbul. Bitter, sharp-tongued, and irritable, she arrived there as a teenage bride and endured the ensuing decades while her husband, Selahattin, sold off her jewelry to support his writing of a 48-volume encyclopedia intended to prove to his superstitious countrymen that God does not exist and that only by worshipping science could Turkey hope to achieve Westernized civilization. Their son, Dogan, an alcoholic like his father, died at 52, leaving three now adult children who have come to Cennethisar for their annual visit with grandmother. Faruk, the eldest, is a failed historian; Nilgun, his sister, is drawn to the Communist Party; adolescent Metin is jealous of his wealthy peers who drink immoderately and do drugs. The siblings are aware that the dwarf Recep, their grandmother's servant, is also their uncle. Recep and his crippled brother, Ismail, were the product of Selahattin's liaison with a servant. Ismail's son, Hasan, a high school delinquent, has joined with nationalist thugs who frighten villagers. While Pamuk deftly suggests the political strife that roiled Turkish society before the 1980 coup, this narrative never achieves the richness and depth of his later work. All but one of the eight major characters are neurotic, self-pitying, resentful, contemptuous of others-even while they yearn to assuage their loneliness-and filled with grandiose dreams of what they'll never achieve. Pamuk uses stream-of-consciousness to convey their inchoate thoughts, and he's most effective when chronicling Hasan's increasing mental instability. Pamuk's belief that "[h]istory's nothing but a story" adds substance to what is otherwise a dispiriting tale. Agent: Andrew Wylie. (Oct. 12) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review
Pamuk's passion for his homeland emanates from every page of this parable of Turkey's history of political discord, its juggling of Eastern and Western sensibilities, and the dichotomy between religious and secular society. Written years before he was awarded the Nobel Prize, this recently translated 1983 novel is a precursor to the themes of unrequited love and class warfare that haunt all of Pamuk's work. In a seaside village outside Istanbul prior to the 1980 military coup, dissipated historian Faruk, budding Communist Nilgun, and their brother, Metin-, a student who dreams of going to America, arrive for summer vacation with their grandmother Fatma. Widowed for 40 years, Fatma spends most days in bed, dwelling on past grievances and imagining new ones. Her only link to the living is her caregiver, Recep, the ill-treated, illegitimate son of her long-dead husband. The novel is written with alternating points of view. Combined, they represent the disparate identities of the most important character, Turkey itself. VERDICT Finn's beautiful translation captures the moody atmosphere of a country in transition and results in an accessible read perfect for those new to Pamuk but perhaps not quite ready to tackle Snow or My Name Is Red. [See Prepub Alert, 4/16/12.]-Sally Bissell, Lee Cty. Lib., Ft. Myers, FL (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
Previously unpublished in English, the Turkish Nobel Laureate's second novel spins characteristic themes of history and national identity outward from a three-generational domestic scenario. This early work by Pamuk (The Museum of Innocence, 2009, etc.) is weighted toward the younger generation as it considers the complex tensions between tradition and modernism, East and West, using a collage of viewpoints, all related through blood, yet each expressive of a very different perspective. Ninety-year-old widow Fatma still lives in Cennethisar, a village that has developed into a bustling seaside resort, in the old marital home she shared with exiled doctor Selhattin, an atheist and modernist whose passion for science inspired him to do the impossible--to write a 48-volume encyclopedia. Selhattin drank himself to death, as did their son, Dogan, and as probably will Dogan's historian son, Faruk, who, with his two siblings, is visiting Fatma for the summer. The family is served by Recep, a dwarf with a crippled brother, Ismail. Both are Selhattin's bastards, born of a servant. Ismail's son, Hasan, is the spark in this diverse group, the aggrieved, impoverished nationalist whose fantasies of success arise from the furious hopelessness of his situation. Violence, both historic and immediate, class and politics further fracture the emblematic group. Using a repetitive, circular, incremental technique, Pamuk builds a multifaceted panorama distinguished by his customary intellectual richness and breadth.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.