From the Nobel Prize winner and best-selling author of Snow and My Name Is Red: a soaring, panoramic new novel - his first since The Museum of Innocence - telling the unforgettable tale of an Istanbul street vendor and the love of his life.
Since his boyhood in a poor village in Central Anatolia, Mevlut Karataş has fantasized about what his life would become. Not getting as far in school as he'd hoped, at the age of 12 he comes to Istanbul - "the center of the world" - and is immediately enthralled by both the old city that is disappearing and the new one that is fast being built. He follows his father's trade, selling boza (a traditional, mildly alcoholic Turkish drink) on the street and hoping to become rich like other villagers who have settled the desolate hills outside the booming metropolis.
But luck never seems to be on Mevlut's side. As he watches his relations settle down and make their fortunes, he spends three years writing love letters to a girl he saw just once at a wedding, only to elope by mistake with her sister. And though he grows to cherish his wife and family, he stumbles toward middle age in a series of jobs leading nowhere. His sense of missing something leads him sometimes to the politics of his friends and intermittently to the teachings of a religious guide. But every evening, without fail, Mevlut still wanders the streets of Istanbul, selling boza and wondering at the "strangeness" in his mind, the sensation that makes him feel different from everyone else, until fortune conspires once more to let him understand at last what it is he has always yearned for.
Told from different perspectives by a host of beguiling characters, A Strangeness in My Mind is a modern epic of coming of age in a great city, a brilliant tableau of life among the newcomers who have changed the face of Istanbul over the past 50 years. Here is a mesmerizing story of human longing, sure to take its place among Pamuk's finest achievements.
©2015 Orhan Pamuk (P)2015 Random House Audio
Of the dozens of books I've listened to from Audible over the past five years, this was my favorite, and the first to inspire me to write a review. Pamuk's tale is utterly charming, bringing to life a city a knew very little about, and a wonderful cast of well-developed characters who, despite having little in common outwardly with the people in my world, are completely recognizable once you get to know them. And I can't imagine a better narrator than John Lee, who gives Pamuk's story, which is epic in structure, the feel of a fable. Lee's affection for all of the characters -- even those whose behavior is not always exemplary -- is apparent, and matched my own. I can't recommend this book highly enough, and only regret that all those to whom I'm recommending it will probably read it rather than listen to Lee's masterful performance of it. But YOU, dear Audible compatriot, are privileged to have that opportunity. So do it -- you won't regret it!
It's just wonderful -- no wonder Pamuk got the Nobel for literature. And if you love Istanbul it's a must -- the city over decades is a virtual character in the story.
Other Pamuk novels, they all are great.
The protagonist, Mevlut.
Mevlut, to a local kebab restaurant in Beyoglu, with a glass of his boza on the side.
Lee is perfect for Pamuk.
I was originally pulled into Pamuk's writing because of the mystical way he wrote about Turkey, especially in "Black Book". This seems to be missing in this novel, and although it is still an engaging read, it reads more like a soap opera than something deep and magical. It also seems the political subplots were added almost as an afterthought; they could have been removed and the main plot wouldn't have suffered or the big picture wouldn't have become much fainter.
Yes, because Pamuk is a very good novelist. Although I'd only recommend this particular novel if you're already familiar with Pamuk's body of work.
I loved his Lynley novels. He is a bit of a slow reader, but speed the audio up to 1,5x and it listens wonderfully.
I love switching back and forth between reading and listening.
Meet Istanbul from the perspective of a street vendor over 3 generations. Heartwarming and universal.
A stronger story narrative. The story has lovely descriptions but does not have any compelling force overall. It is quite redundant. The written "voice" between different characters feels the same. Not my cuppa boza, sorry.
Already tried Snow and did not like that one either. Strangeness I had to complete for a book group.
It's less philosophical or postmodern than Orhan Pamuk's other novels, and more of a family saga. Therefore, it is an accessible entry into his work, and well narrated by John Lee.
I liked Abdul Effendi, for his rather sneering tone conveyed nimbly by Lee. This man looks over the concretization of Istanbul, and schemes for the relentless growth of this mega-city.
Such characters as Abdul and the narrator Mehvet's foil of sorts Suleiman gain vivacity and energy when Lee enters their mindsets. His attention to Turkish pronunciation won me over with Louis De Bernieres' "Birds Without Wings" and sustains this very long novel once again.
Pamuk does not create a lot of drama with his characters, frankly. Nothing extraordinary happens in this saga, told from an everyday immigrant's perspective, from when he came to the city from a village in 1969 at the age of 12 until early in this present decade. I suppose it must be Mehvet, but I wanted more of the Holy Guide who remained rather too mysterious.
Hearing Orhan Pamuk's sometimes diffuse and meandering works may be the best way for Westerners to handle them. John Lee knows how to render Turkish terms as well as a lilt in his witty and avuncular tone to convey the listener along. I like his tone and his delivery.
This takes place in the Middle East from the POV of an everyday Joe. You tuck right in and follow him around as he maneuvers the trials and tribulations of every day life. Different from ours but somehow the same. It's all about the shared challenges we all face in our lives and the influences of family and secrets both open and closed. A single incident becomes the point of the before and after, and even as more than a quarter century passes it's still that pivotal moment in time. Nursed and practiced as though it meant one thing but in the end it reveals itself for what it became - the true meaning of ones life. A lovely story and I'll hear that sound of "BooaZaaa" In my head for a long time to come.
The narrator's barking voice reminds me of a German Shepherd I had, and picturing
Brandy as the reader utterly ruins the audio experience. Mr. Lee is capable of a gentler more legato delivery, a relief, that alas, is rarely experienced. I gave up listening after a couple of chapters and borrowed the book from the library. Yes, Mr. Lee's narration is that annoying.
Pamuk is in love with his city -- and his affection shines through the novel. But the main character is a loser.
No, a thousand times no.
No -- the novel is a complete recreation of a vanished place and time.
wish I could have my money back.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.