- My Name Is Red
My Name Is Red
1st edition (Turkish)
Author(s) Orhan Pamuk Original title Benim Adım Kırmızı Translator Erdağ M. Göknar Country Turkey Language Turkish Genre(s) Historical novel Publisher Alfred A. Knopf Publication date 1998 Published in
2001, Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback) Pages 448 pp. (original Turkish) 417 pp (1st English ed.) ISBN ISBN 975-470-711-1 (original Turkish) & ISBN 0-571-20047-8 (1st English ed.) OCLC Number 223008806 LC Classification PL248.P34 B46 1998
My Name Is Red (Benim Adım Kırmızı) is a 1998 Turkish novel by Nobel laureate author Orhan Pamuk. The English translation won the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in 2003,. The French version won the French Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger and the Italian version the Premio Grinzane Cavour in 2002. The novel and its English translation established Pamuk's international reputation and contributed to his winning of the Nobel prize. In recognition of its exceptional status in Pamuk's oeuvre, the novel will be re-published in Erdağ Göknar's translation as part of the Everyman's Library Contemporary Classics series in 2010. The influences of authors Joyce, Kafka, Mann, Nabokov and Rushdie can be seen in Pamuk's work. BBC Radio 4 broadcast an adaptation of the novel in 2008.
The main characters in the novel are miniaturists in the Ottoman Empire, one of whom is murdered in the first chapter. From this point, Pamuk — in a postmodern style reminiscent of Jorge Luis Borges — plays with the reader and with literary conventions. The last paragraph of the English translation involves metafiction.
Each chapter of the novel has a different narrator, and usually there are thematic and chronological connections between chapters. In addition, unexpected voices are used, such as the corpse of the murdered, a coin, Satan, two dervishes, and the color red. Each of these "unusual" narrators is contributed by specific characters, which detail the philosophical system of 16th century Istanbul. The novel blends mystery, romance, and philosophical puzzles, illustrating the reign of Ottoman Sultan Murat III during nine snowy winter days in 1591.
Enishte Effendi, the maternal uncle of Kara (Black), is reading the Book of the Soul by Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya, a Sunni commentator on the Qur'an, and continuous references to it are made throughout the book. Part of the novel is narrated by Elegant Effendi, the murdered miniaturist. Al-Jawziyya argues, in the same fashion as Islamic doctrine, that the souls of the dead remain on earth and can hear the living.
Pamuk suggests that to some of the characters, viewing miniatures or "perfected art" is a way to achieve a kind of glimpse of eternity. Thus Shekure seeks to look upon the reader like women who view miniatures of a distant time and place do, thereby escaping time and place - "...just like those beautiful women with one eye on the life within the book and one eye on the life outside, I, too, long to speak with you who are observing me from who knows which distant time and place." Elegant Effendi accused his murderer of producing sacrilegious illustrations that offend Allah.
- Elegant Effendi, murdered miniaturist who speaks from the afterlife to the reader in the opening chapter.
- Kara (Black), miniaturist and binder. Recently returned from 12 years away in Persia. Nephew of Enishte ("Uncle").
- Enishte Effendi, maternal uncle of Black, who is in charge of the creation of a secret book for the Sultan in the style of the Venetian painters
- Shekure, Enishte's beautiful daughter with whom Black is in love; Shekure (related to English 'sugar' refers to Shirin, meaning 'sweet', also the name of Pamuk's mother)
- Shevket, Shekure's older son (also the name of Orhan Pamuk's older brother)
- Orhan, Shekure's younger son (also Pamuk's first name)
- Hasan, the younger brother of Shekure's husband
- Hayriye, slave girl in Enishte's household, Enishte's concubine.
- Master Osman, head of the Sultan's workshop of miniaturists. This character is based on Nakkaş Osman.
- Butterfly, one of three miniaturists suspected for the murders. Paints figures in the book representing Death, and the Melancholy Woman.
- Stork, one of three suspect miniaturists. Paints the Tree and the Dog.
- Olive, one of three suspect miniaturists. Paints Satan and the two Dervishes.
- Esther, A Jewess peddler, a matchmaker, carries lovers' letters.
- Nusret Hoja, A Conservative Muslim leader who may be based on an historical figure, opposes coffee and coffeehouses, bawdy stories, and figurative paintings.
Books within the book
A number of books illustrated by famous miniaturists are referenced by the characters in My Name is Red: Several of the specific manuscripts described (most prominently the "Shahnama given by Shah Tahmasp", more commonly known in the west as the Houghton shahnama ) are real and survive in whole or part.
- Book of the Soul by Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya
- Book of Festivities or An Imperial Celebration by Surname-I Hümayun, in the story still under completion
- Shahnameh or the Book of Kings by the Persian poet Firdawsi, is the national epic of the Persian speaking world.
- Chronicle of Sultan Selim
- The Convergence of the Stars, ordered by Sam Mirza, brother of Shah Ismail
- Hüsrev and Shirin by Persian Nizami (English: Khosru and Shireen), this love story forms the central idea behind the love story in My Name is Red
- Book of Equines by the Bukharan scholar Fadlan (a drawing of a horse is the key to finding the murderer in My Name is Red)
- The Illustration of Horses, three volumes on how to draw horses: The Depiction of Horses, The Flow of Horses, and The Love of Horses by Jemalettin of Kazvin
- The Blindman's Horses, a critique on the prior three volumes by Kemalettin Riza of Herat
- History of Tall Hasan, Khan of the Whitesheep by Jemalettin
- Gulestan by Sadi
- Book of Victories with the funeral ceremonies of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent
- Book of Skills
My Name is Red received favourable reviews. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly admires the novel’s "...jeweled prose and alluring digressions, nesting stories within stories" and concludes that Pamuk will gain many new readers with this "...accessible, charming and intellectually satisfying, narrative." A Kirkus Reviews critic describes the novel as "...a whimsical but provocative exploration of the nature of art in an Islamic society. . . . A rich feast of ideas, images, and lore." Jonathan Levi, writing in the L.A. Times Book Review, comments that "...it is Pamuk’s rendering of the intense life of artists negotiating the devilishly sharp edge of Islam 1,000 years after its birth that elevates My Name Is Red to the rank of modern classic." Levi also notes that the novel, although set four hundred years ago, reflects modern societal tensions. For this reason he calls it "...a novel of our time.’’
In the New York Times, Richard Eder describes Pamuk’s intense interest in East-West interactions and explains some of the metaphysical ideas that permeate the novel. He also comments that the novel is not just about ideas: "Eastern or Western, good or bad, ideas precipitate once they sink to human level, unleashing passions and violence. ‘Red’ is chockfull of sublimity and sin." Eder also praises the characterization of Shekure, which he regards as the finest in the book. She is "...elusive, changeable, enigmatic and immensely beguiling." Eder concludes: "They (readers) will . . . be lofted by the paradoxical light-ness and gaiety of the writing, by the wonder- fully winding talk perpetually about to turn a corner, and by the stubborn humanity in the characters’ maneuvers to survive. It is a humanity whose lies and silences emerge as endearing and oddly bracing individual truths".
Erdağ M. Göknar's translation of My Name is Red gained Pamuk international recognition and contributed to his selection as Nobel laureate; upon publication, Pamuk was described as a serious Nobel contender.. The translation received praise from many reviewers including John Updike in The New Yorker: "Erdağ M. Göknar deserves praise for the cool, smooth English in which he has rendered Pamuk's finespun sentences, passionate art appreciations, sly pedantic debates, (and) eerie urban scenes." Many readers and critics[who?] consider My Name is Red to be Pamuk's best work in English translation.
- 1998, Turkey, Iletisim Yayincilik (ISBN 975-470-711-1), Pub date ? ? 1998, hardback (First edition - in Turkish)
- 2001, USA, Alfred A Knopf (ISBN 978-0375406959), Pub date ? August 2001, hardback (1st English edition)
- 2001, UK, Faber & Faber (ISBN 978-0571200474), Pub date 2 November 2001, paperback
- 2002, UK, Faber & Faber (ISBN 978-0571212248), Pub date 31 July 2002, paperback
- 2002, USA, Vintage Books (ISBN 978-0375706851), Pub date ? September 2002, paperback (Erdag Goknar translator)
- 2008, UK, Dramatised on BBC Radio 4 in 2 parts by Ayeesha Menon, directed by John Dryden, August 2008.
- ^ IMPAC prize citation
- ^ Richard Eder, "Heresies of the Paintbrush," New York Times Book Review, Sept. 2, 2001.
- ^ Maureen Freely, Review of My Name is Red, in New Statesman, Vol. 130, No. 4552, Aug. 27, 2001, p. 41 and Richard Eder, "Heresies of the Paintbrush," in New York Times Book Review, Sept. 2, 2001.
- ^ Vintage Catalog
- ^ http://www.impacdublinaward.ie/2003/Winner.htm
- ^ IMPAC award FAQs
- ^ BBC report
- Orhan Pamuk discusses My Name is Red on the BBC World Book Club
- John Updike on "My Name is Red"
- Richard Eder's review at New York Times
- Extensive excerpts at Book Excerptise
- Pamuk/Göknar win 100,000 Euro Award
- Medieval Sourcebook - Khosru and Shireen
- Pamuk on the Nobel Prize site
Works by Orhan Pamuk Novels Screenplay
The Secret Face (1992)
Other Colors: Essays and a Story (1999) • Istanbul: Memories and the City (2003) • My Father's Suitcase (2007) Manzaradan Parçalar (2010)
The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 1996–1999
Remembering Babylon (1996) · A Heart So White (1997) · The Land of Green Plums (1998) · Ingenious Pain (1999)
The Twin (2010) · Let the Great World Spin (2011)
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
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