Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Orhan Pamuk’s Snow: Tiring But Insightful

In Orhan Pamuk’s acclaimed novel Snow,a middle aged writer on political exile returns to his home country only to find that everything that was once familiar to him is changed. The novel set in Kars, a border town in Turkey, is a multilayered story dealing with subjects as varied as the conflict between East and West, religion, belief, God, secularism,love, art and power. The book has a snail-like pace, but rewards the patient reader with several profoundinsights about the topics it deal with. It makes us think about real people living and dealing with issues in a world where the gap between politics and religion is getting narrow by the day. Ka reaches the border city of Kars (Snow) as a journalist to investigate the suicideof several young girls and also to report on the mayoral elections. The previous mayor was killed and this time Muhtar Bey, of anIslamic party is the popular candidate expected to win the election. Radical Islam is slowly getting popular in a nation governed by seculars. The secular government has banned girls coming to educational institutes wearing head scarves. Political Islamists claim this as the reason for suicides. Ka has one more personal agendato fulfill- returning to Germany with his old lover Ipek, ex-wife of Muhtar. Heavy snowfall blocks the road for three days and there occurs a chain of events that change the life of everyone in Kars. Ka witness the death of an official and a drama troupe with the help of secret police and ex-military personnel conducts a coup. These events makes everyone involved introspect and find what is really important to them in life. More than the plot, it is the characterizationthat makes this novel interesting. Each person in the story is integral to the plot. Every one of the characters is strong willed and has their own value system according to which they act. Some of themlike Blue, the enigmatic terrorist and Sunoy, the actor who leads the coup, pronounce their beliefoutright. But some of them like Ipek or Kadife, her sister reveals it through their actions. Snow that falls incessantly and blocks all the exitsto Kars is also an integral character in the drama. Sometimessnowfall is contributesto solitude, sometimesto happiness and many other emotions according to the occasions. Ka gets back his ability to write poems in Kars and later he organizeshis poems that ‘come to him’ in Kars in the shape of a snow flake.Orhan Pamuk’s Snow is a profound novel that can be tiring but also insightful to readers who are ready to invest their time and effort.


  1. Nice review. I have yet to read a book by Orhan Pamuk, but I have wanted to read one ever since I heard of him. I gave the Museum of Innocence as a birthday gift to my sister, and she said the same things about it that you've said here about Snow : tiring, long but insightful. Having read him yourself, which Orhan Pamuk book would you recommend me to first read?

  2. I love your reviews and this one was no exception! Books that reward patient readers... Sometimes I love them, sometimes I don't. I guess it depends on how patient I am at the moment. But it's amazing when I reach the point in such a book when everything ties together and the insights come pouring in! I have My Name is Red the same author on my shelf but I'm yet to read it. This sounds like an amazing book too. Will be sure to check it out when I'm in the mood for something that requires introspection!