By Orhan Pamuk
Alfred A. Knopf, $26.95, 352 pages
In a rundown seaside mansion near Istanbul, an ancient widow and her despised servant anticipate an annual visit from her three adult grandchildren. It is the summer of 1980, just weeks before a bloody military coup will rock Turkey, and the residents of both the house and the village are caught somewhere between awareness and ignorance of what is to come. The matron spends her days in silent resentment, attended by her husband’s illegitimate son, while outside her door her relatives and neighbors are increasingly caught up in the nation’s struggle towards modernity. In this multi-layered novel, the story of the summer slowly unfolds in the minds and words of the various narrators.
Some watch as the known world changes, while others find themselves in the middle of the coming turmoil. Written in 1983 and recently published for the first time in English, this is an early work by a Nobel Laureate that shows all the literary promise of one of the world’s greatest living authors of fiction. Highly recommended.
Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen