By Orhan Pamuk. Grade: A+
My name is red is a wonderful book on passion, art, murder and infatuation. It has strong melancholic undercurrents, but above all, it hovers overhead as a master crime novel. The story telling finesse of Orhan Pamuk is unquestionable with books like The Black Book and The Museum of Innocence already under his belt, My Name is Red stands up to his reputation.
The book is beautifully written and narrated by a dizzying range of characters, who each add a clue to the description of the murderer. You get the feeling that this is going to be a good book from the very start. The book begins with the corpse lying in the depths of an abandoned well and recounting his last moments, the corpse gives his deepest misgivings to the murderer. In this first chapter you might just find the most significant lines in the book, though I will leave this suspense for you to unravel.
The book then continues on with Black Effendi returning from his travels to his hometown, 16th century Istanbul (a then magnificent city) after 12 long years. He yearns for his love Shekure, he discovers that her husband had gone to a war he never returned from. He then learns from Enishte Effendi about the fact that the sultan had commissioned for the making of the greatest book ever made. Four the master minaturists were made to work for the completion of the book. But one of them is found dead and the miniaturists are the prime suspects. The miniaturists have Nicknames, Butterfly, Stork, Olive and Elegant (the one killed). Later in the book Enishte is also killed and the book is handed over to Black for completion which he accepts to win back Shekure.
Black then works with master Osman, undoubtebly the best character in the book. Osman is a very old miniaturist and the view of the crumbling world of art in front of his very eyes is awe inspiring, Osman is the one who moves you the most with his passion towards the art, he teaches love, passion and above all sacrifice. You will get to know better when you finally decide to read the book.
Throughout the pages of the book, the most visible thing is Orhan’s love for Istanbul and how he stills clings to his native language (Turkish) to write a book. Orhan stuns, shocks, and moves. He etches a dramatic climax, and the ending of this book may well be one of the finest endings ever written, but that to I will leave for you to decide.
This may just be the finest Crime fiction you have ever read. But the thing is it may not be the most convincing book on first look, but beneath the undercurrents and all the wordplay, you might just catch the currents of a true maestro. Yes, that suits Mr. Pamuk just right.