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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Other Colors: Essays and a Story By Orhan Pamuk, translated by Maureen Freely - review by Michael McGaha

Pamuk, who started out as a painter, calls them "word pictures." Most of them are marked by the same elegiac tone he put to such effective use in his memoir "Istanbul: Memories and the City." The story titled "To Look Out the Window" was published in Granta in 1999 as "Famous People" in a fine translation by Erdag Göknar. A minor masterpiece, it's a bittersweet evocation of Pamuk's wealthy extended family's life in Istanbul in the winter of 1959 as seen through the eyes of 7-year-old Orhan. Rarely have I come across such an utterly convincing re-creation of how a child perceives the adult world. Maybe Pamuk is so good at this because he has never really grown up. What is most distinctive about his writing is his reckless, childlike honesty. He sees things that the rest of us prefer to overlook and tells the truth as he sees it without considering the consequences to himself or others. Naturally, this has gotten him into considerable trouble with his family, his friends and the Turkish government.

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