Review: My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk

Orhan Pamuk has been on my list of writers to sample for a while. I started with My Name Is Red because its focus on illuminated manuscripts appealed to me. I disregarded the reviews which suggested this is not the ‘best’ place to start with Pamuk. Alas, I was cocky. I thought my knowledge of history, memories of Istanbul, and hours spent copying/painting manuscripts would give me a leg up. They didn’t. I’ve read books set in unfamiliar cultures before, but My Name Is Red feels truly foreign and reminiscent of that moment in Istanbul when I realized Turkish is a tricky language. But instead of squinting at signs, I was scratching my head at Pamuk’s mythical, artistic, and philosophical diversions. In all cases, something was familiar, but I was miles away. read more