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My Name Is Red | [Orhan Pamuk]

My Name Is Red

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 16th-century Istanbul, from one of the most prominent contemporary Turkish writers.
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Publisher's Summary

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 16th-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.

Translated from the Turkish by Erdag Goknar.

©2008 Orhan Pamuk; (P)2008 Random House, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"It is neither passion nor homicide that makes Pamuk's latest, My Name is Red, the rich and essential book that it is. . . . It is Pamuk's rendering of the intense life of artists negotiating the devilishly sharp edge of Islam 1,000 years after its brith that elevates My Name is Red to the rank of modern classic. . . . To read Pamuk is to be steeped in a paradox that precedes our modern-day feuds beteween secularism and fundamentalism." (Jonathan Levi, Los Angeles Times Book Review)

"Straddling the Dardanelles sits the city of Istanbul . . . and in that city sits Orhan Pamuk, chronicler of its consciousness . . . His novel's subject is the difference in perceptions between East and West . . . [and] a mysterious killer... driven by mad theology. . .Pamuk is getting at a subject that has compelled modern thinkers from Heidegger to Derrida . . . My Name is Red is a meditation on authenticity and originality . . . An ambitious work on so many levels at once." (Melvin Jules Bukiet, Chicago Tribune)

"A murder mystery set in sixteenth-century Istanbul [that] uses the art of miniature illumination, much as Mann's Doctor Faustus did music, to explore a nation's soul. . . . Erdag Goknar deserves praise for the cool, smooth English in which he has rendered Pamuk's finespun sentences, passionate art appreciations, sly pedantic debates, [and] eerie urban scenes." (John Updike, The New Yorker)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.5 (145 )
5 star
 (45)
4 star
 (35)
3 star
 (33)
2 star
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1 star
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Overall
3.7 (65 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.2 (65 )
5 star
 (31)
4 star
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3 star
 (12)
2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    D. Hile Evans, GA United States 03-12-09
    D. Hile Evans, GA United States 03-12-09 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    38
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    25
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    "An adventure in art, intrigue and culture"

    I was tempted by this book's description and it did not fail. Along with the murder mistory, it was an adventure in a little known world of art and its contradictions and supports of the prevailing religion as interpreted at the time. It is an interesting exploration of a variety of personalities and motivations. Running through it all is an exceptionally illustrated process of the processes involved in production of art.
    If you are homophobic you may want to think twice. While not explicit there is some discussion of sexual ideas that may not be mainstream to many americans.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Hannibal, MO USA 08-23-09
    Amazon Customer Hannibal, MO USA 08-23-09 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    23
    ratings
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    102
    8
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    FOLLOWING
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    3
    Overall
    "Good story, but fairly repetitive."

    Story is pretty fascinating, and gives a good peek at the period -- but there are a lot of very repetitive lines - gets tedious occasionally.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathleen Shelter Island, NY, United States 05-13-10
    Kathleen Shelter Island, NY, United States 05-13-10 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    110
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    3
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    Overall
    "Complex and interesting"

    John Lee is an incredible reader, and a perfect choice for this book. There are around 20 first-person narrators in the book, and Lee performs all their voices superbly, reflecting each one's individuality and unique perspective on the happenings in the novel. These characters (some not even human, like the color red) create a rich tapestry that brings to life this period in Istanbul and the Ottoman Empire, with wit and charm, rather than dry historical narration. This is not a light or easy read, but worth the effort. I found it helpful to borrow the print copy from the library, and occasionally refer to it for the names and spellings of people and places.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C Chestnuthill, MA, United States 07-30-09
    C Chestnuthill, MA, United States 07-30-09 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    65
    ratings
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    211
    66
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    4
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    Overall
    "A good choice"

    I really enjoyed this slightly unconventional book. The narration was also excellent. there were 2 things that I didn't like about it. it was a little long and repetitive and it was confusing in parts.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric G. Mart Manchester, NH United States 10-05-13
    Eric G. Mart Manchester, NH United States 10-05-13 Member Since 2003

    I'm a forensic psychologist living in Portsmouth NH.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
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    129
    5
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    Performance
    Story
    "Interesting But Over-Written"

    Clearly, Pamuk is a great prose stylist. The book is atmospheric and exotic, and there are parts that were fascinating. But his long metaphysical discussions of the mystical elements of miniaturist painting in 16th century Istanbul are heavy going and take up much of the book. I was reminded of Moby Dick; a great book if you skip over the endless descriptions of whales. On the positive side, the narrator is one of the best I have heard.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. Donohue New York, NY USA 02-14-14
    D. Donohue New York, NY USA 02-14-14 Member Since 2009

    dungha

    HELPFUL VOTES
    23
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    75
    14
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    8
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Perfection"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Everything I enjoy: art history, philosophy, great storytelling, and a beautiful voice to deliver it all.


    What other book might you compare My Name Is Red to and why?

    Salman Rushdie's Enchantress of Florence - same combination of art history, philosophy, great storytelling and a beautiful voice to deliver it all!


    What about John Lee’s performance did you like?

    He turns text into cinema, playing all the roles.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The details about miniature painting are seared into my memory. They have changed me.


    Any additional comments?

    My only complaint about the book is that it is a tough act to follow. I crave more and there are no more. I have heard other Orhan Pamuks. This one, however, was a perfect storm and I regretted its end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Al San Francisco, CA 06-10-11
    Al San Francisco, CA 06-10-11 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    51
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    75
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    5
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    "The best english written prose ever read"

    The quality of writing in english is matchless and unlike any other written piece that I have read before. The concept where different things think and speak is quite unique as well. Plus the theme of the book and story line is excellent as well. Must read.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amanda plantation, FL, USA 03-11-10
    Amanda plantation, FL, USA 03-11-10 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    25
    1
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    0
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    Overall
    "Please, Somebody, Make it be Over!"

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE reading...and have NEVER started a book and not finished it. I figure that if someone took the time to write it, the least I can do is take the time to finish it...

    Oh how I wish I could bring myself to break my own rule just once. "My Name Is Red" is, without a doubt, the most boring book I've ever "read" in my entire life. It's slow, repetitive, and confusing. I'm almost 2/3 through and can't imagine how I'll find the strength to finish the last 1/3. Besides, I REALLY don't care how it ends (even if someone just told me the ending without having to go through the torture of listening to the rest). I should have paid attention to the other reviewers. They weren't lying.

    5 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Russ Sterling, VA, USA 02-16-10
    Russ Sterling, VA, USA 02-16-10 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    5
    1
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    0
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    "couldn't get into it"

    It was very hard to listen to. I kept having to stop & rewind to figure out who was talking. Repetitive, only in different prespectives. Maybe you could read it. I would not recommend this book ever. I though it was painful & a waste of my time..& my 2 credits.

    3 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lynn Atlanta, GA, United States 12-04-09
    Lynn Atlanta, GA, United States 12-04-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    43
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    61
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    "Tedious"

    this book was recommended by one of my art professors. It was sort of interesting from an artist's perspective, but it could have been about half as long. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who isn't interested in art.

    4 of 8 people found this review helpful
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