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My Name is Red – Orhan Pamuk

My Name is Red – Orhan Pamuk

My book club’s theme of the month is red, and I have wanted to red this for a long time, so it was the perfect pairing.

Here’s the blurb …

At once a fiendishly devious mystery, a beguiling love story, and a brilliant symposium on the power of art, My Name Is Red is a transporting tale set amid the splendor and religious intrigue of sixteenth-century Istanbul, from one of the most prominent contemporary Turkish writers.

The Sultan has commissioned a cadre of the most acclaimed artists in the land to create a great book celebrating the glories of his realm. Their task: to illuminate the work in the European style. But because figurative art can be deemed an affront to Islam, this commission is a dangerous proposition indeed. The ruling elite therefore mustn’t know the full scope or nature of the project, and panic erupts when one of the chosen miniaturists disappears. The only clue to the mystery–or crime? –lies in the half-finished illuminations themselves. Part fantasy and part philosophical puzzle, My Name is Red is a kaleidoscopic journey to the intersection of art, religion, love, sex and power.

I enjoyed the Istanbul setting, the cultural and social history, and I found some of the stories told by non-human characters (the colour red, picture of a dog) to be funny and interesting. It has an interesting structure, chapters from different perspectives, a dead man, the murderer, etc. However, I found this to be very long and often very repetitive (I suspect there were subtle details in the retelling which would have revealed more, but they passed my by).

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