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Publisher's Summary

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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
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A Strangeness in My Mind: A Delight for my Commute

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!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Ah, Pamuk

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

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.

What other book might you compare A Strangeness in My Mind to and why?

Other Pamuk novels, they all are great.

Which character – as performed by John Lee – was your favorite?

The protagonist, Mevlut.

If you could take any character from A Strangeness in My Mind out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Mevlut, to a local kebab restaurant in Beyoglu, with a glass of his boza on the side.

Any additional comments?

Lee is perfect for Pamuk.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Different world but very much the same

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A bit of a soap opera.

Is there anything you would change about this book?

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.

Would you recommend A Strangeness in My Mind to your friends? Why or why not?

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.

Have you listened to any of John Lee’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

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.

Was A Strangeness in My Mind worth the listening time?

Yes.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Amazing Real Characters...

Meet Istanbul from the perspective of a street vendor over 3 generations. Heartwarming and universal.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • MnM
  • LA CA USA
  • 05-12-16

An epic without a cause.

What would have made A Strangeness in My Mind better?

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.<br/>

Would you ever listen to anything by Orhan Pamuk and Ekin Oklap - translator again?

Already tried Snow and did not like that one either. Strangeness I had to complete for a book group.

Would you be willing to try another one of John Lee’s performances?

sure

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Street vendor witnesses 5 decades of Istanbul

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

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.

Who was your favorite character and why?

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.

What does John Lee bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

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.

Who was the most memorable character of A Strangeness in My Mind and why?

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.

Any additional comments?

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Terrific! highly recommend!

a great love story about what is really important in life !! highly recommend. and reader is amazing!

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Deserves theNobel Prize

Deeply philosophical, yet still plot driven about the relationship between fate(kismet) luck and intention.yet a real page turner showing the individual in history, it is the story of s yoghurt seller on the streets iof IStanbul i@1958.
Is love at first sight real

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  • John
  • Sedro-Woolley, WA, United States
  • 09-10-17

Another Fantastic Journey

Another rich weave of characters, culture, and circumstance. The protagonist is a simple, honest, and hardworking man. Pamuk chronicles the details of his life, and the interactions with his family with the evolution of modern Istanbul as the backdrop. The story is dignified, and intimate. His writing is melodic, and the characters are fully realized. I've never been disappointed by this author.