Friday, September 02, 2005

My Name is Red

My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk was my best summer read. While it is not about writing systems, it is about books; in particular, book illustrations. As this review comments, it was a dense beginning, and I put it down. However, when I picked it up again, everything fell into place. Each chapter initially comes off as a short story on its own; then they start to fall into place one within another and so on.

This mystery is about 16th century Istanbul book illustrators who are integrating artistic elements from China, the Mongol empire, Herat, Tabriz and Venice into their paintings. Romance and realism, sex, art and philosphy all blend together in a well-balanced and tastefully arranged banquet of themes.

The high point of the story for the true book lover will be when the main character accompanies an artist through the Sultan's treasury, leafing through book after book, seeking a particular illustration. Colour and line are so vividly described that rich images live on in the mind.

Well, I enjoyed this book, what more can I say? Oh yeah, the author speaks so authentically with the voices of both men and women that one has to wonder how he can get it so right.


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