Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Turkish delight

My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk is very much a new book to me. In fact I hadn't read any Pamuk before this book, which I'm still reading. From the given evidence I like him, though. The book is dense and perhaps somewhat challenging, due to the multiple narrators. But it gives a fascinating view of the Medieval Ottoman Empire: placid and conservative on the surface, but containing a great degree of debate and rebellion under it.

The thing of calling Europeans "Franks" was also used by Kim Stanley Robinson in The Years of Rice and Salt, where it referred to a nearly-extinct species. Apparently it's a real thing. Kind of odd, since the actual Franks were just one of many Germanic tribes. But language is always a funny thing.


susan said...

I read the review you linked to and was so fascinated by the description that it's now on my book order list. I've never read him either but now I'm really looking forward to correcting that omission.

I've been reading through the John Burdett 'Bangkok' books and was reminded that the Thais call all westerners 'farang'. It feels right somehow.

Ben said...

I think you'd like the book, definitely. The murder mystery aspect is pretty solid. There's also a lot of discussion of Islamic vs Western art. The European art of the Renaissance was informed by new discoveries about anatomy and optics, of course, but it was as much a stylized creation as anything from the East.

Farang. It sounds like it could be related to "foreign." It also sounds kinda cool. I'd take it as a compliment.