Daily Archives: September 23, 2012

A Love Letter to Books

Dear Books,

This is my love letter to you. An earnest lover’s love expressed through words. The words that you and I understand and know the best. I will try not to make it sentimental. I will try not to get overwhelmed. I will try not to stain the page with my tears of joy, because come on, you and I know how important your existence is to me.

You have been there in my life since I knew how to read and thank god for that. Some people do not understand you and they are such fools that I don’t even bother interacting with them. There are others who write you and yet haven’t read the best of what you have to offer. You are hidden sometimes – waiting to be found in that pile on the wall, in that library shelf, in the section of the bookstore that no one goes to and yet when they find you, they are overjoyed. That is your charm. I guess that is the reason of your existence – to spread happiness through words and their meanings and emotions.

Books, you know you have been there throughout, right? If not, then you should be made aware. You have been there all the time – through the good times, through the worst of them and sometimes in-between. I cannot begin to thank you and how for making life a lot bearable. If it weren’t for you, then it would be a dull life for sure. In fact, let me go a step ahead and say that maybe it wouldn’t be worth living.

You guys know it all. You are precious to me. I love you more than anything else in the world and I hope you know that by now. You have to. People say I am boring. They say that I do not party or get out much often. But well, I have you. So I guess it is enough or so it seems for now. The love-affair is peaceful. There are no expectations from me, but besides the fact that I read. You guys have the capacity to lure me, entice me, do the word-dance and I am all yours for the night.

I said I would not get sentimental but that seems a little difficult, given that it’s you I am talking about. How can I not get sentimental? How can I not think of all the times I have spent with you and more times to come and expect not have the lump in my throat? I cannot. I am human after all.

Books, you have made this world easy to tolerate. You have taken me places and brought me back in the comfort of my spot in my room. You make me dream of stories I read in you. You make me wonder and question and open my mind through your writers’ thoughts. You do that and much more. I could never get enough and maybe this letter is not worthy of your praise. I could go on and mumble about how much I love you. But then this is enough for now. The message is clear.

A Reader.

Book Review: Silent House by Orhan Pamuk

Title: Silent House
Author: Orhan Pamuk
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton, Penguin
ISBN: 978-0-670-08559-0
Genre: Literary Fiction, Translation
Pages: 334
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

Not everyone I have met who like reading, like Orhan Pamuk. They say they cannot get into his books. Of course. It is true. One needs a lot of patience and time on hand to be able to read and appreciate a Pamuk. The first time I started on was with, “My Name is Red” and it took me two rereads to be able to understand the intricacies and his style. After that, most of his books seemed to be a breeze, with a lot of substance at heart. Grand issues, families, morals and emotions are at the core of his books. Not to forget the Turkish culture.

“Silent House” by Orhan Pamuk might be new for the English reading population, but definitely not for the Turkish one. It is Pamuk’s second novel and well better late than never that the English readers get to read it.

The plot revolves around an old widow Fatma, living in an old mansion in Cennethisar, a former fishing village in Istanbul, awaiting the annual summer visit of her grandchildren. She has been a part of the village for decades now, where her husband, a doctor, first arrived to serve the village folk. Fatma is now almost bedridden, attended on by her faithful servant, Recep, a dwarf and the doctor’s illegitimate son.

The dwarf and the matron share everything – life, memories, food, happiness and grievances of the early years, before Cennethisar became a resort and of the present – the changes that are pushing Istanbul to modernity.

The grandchildren arrive bringing with them their burdens, lives and hopes. Faruk, the failed historian, his sensitive leftist sister, Nilgun; Metin, the high-school student who is drawn to the so-called life of nouveaux riches and dreams of America and the possibilities. Amidst them there is Hassan, Recep’s nephew, a school drop-out and a right-wing Nationalist, whose views are radical and in touch with the Istanbul that he envisions.

The story has way too many layers to it. I felt at times that maybe three hundred and thirty four pages weren’t enough to tell this story, but maybe had it extended beyond, it would probably get boring.

Recep shone throughout the book. The dwarf’s character has been etched to the hilt and is definitely not underplayed at any given point. His interaction with the others is sometimes what propels the book. Fatma mulls over life and longing, as the action unfolds in the mansion and lives are played out. Hassan is the angry young man in so many ways and restrained in so many others.

Orhan Pamuk’s genius can never be doubted. Maybe he just knows how to deliver, even if the book has just been translated recently. The writing takes you by the throat in some places and makes you wonder and contemplate in others. Robert Finn’s translation is even and I am thankful that it was done for this book.

“Silent House” is a treat for all literary lovers. One that needs to be savoured and read maybe once again. I will in time for sure. It deserves a reread.

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