Back Blurb: Galip is a lawyer living in Istanbul. His wife, the detective novel-loving Ruya, has disappeared. Could she have left him for her ex-husband, Celâl, a popular newspaper columnist? But Celâl, too, seems to have vanished. As Galip investigates, he finds himself assuming the enviable Celâl 's identity, wearing his clothes, answering his phone calls, even writing his columns. Galip pursues every conceivable clue, but the nature of the mystery keeps changing, and when he receives a death threat, he begins to fear the worst.
With its cascade of beguiling stories about Istanbul, The Black Book is a brilliantly unconventional mystery, and a provocative meditation on identity. For Turkish literary readers it is the cherished cult novel in which Orhan Pamuk found his original voice, but it has largely been neglected by English-language readers. Now, in Maureen Freely’s beautiful new translation, they, too, may encounter all its riches.
My take: Whoa, what an incredible book! This is about self-awareness and self-identity. Who are we? Are we simply the product of our environment, of what we read, of what we absorb? Is there a "you" who exists apart from these influences? Is it even possible to exist without these influences?
Self identity is also tied up to nationality, as Pamuk is a Turkish writer, he has numerous references to the history and the Turkish identity. And the day-to-dayness of Turkish life.
I read this book in under a week. The storyline was gripping. There were parts that I wanted to skip whole sections because I found it dragging. But I didn't give into the temptation, and this has lent to the multi-dimensional-ness of the characters and the world in which they move in.
I loved the ending of the story of the prince. It is this book wherein it wasn't the ending per se that mattered, but how the ending reflected how the character found himself.
Great books make you think, and they make you think hard and deep about yourself, even if it hurts.