Painting is the silence of thought and the music of sight.


In reading this book, I was struck by the cornucopia of images, colours, illustrations.

Orhan Pamuk, the recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature has written this amazing historical novel and set in the time of the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century. It was written in 1998 in Turkish and translated to English in 2001.

The book has miniature painters as the main characters and it talks in detail about the techniques used in painting, the philosophy behind the paintings and the psyche and the lifestyle of the painters themselves. There are innumerable subjects and illustrations that are discussed in vivid detail.

One of the most exciting feature of the book is that each chapter has a different narrator. To change skins and perspectives often, the reader is kept on his toes. The narrators range from the main characters to corpses, horses, Satan and even inanimate objects like coins and trees.

The book starts with the murder of one of the miniaturists. The unraveling of the mystery behind the murder takes up an important part of the book. Interwoven with the intrigue is a delightful romance. It veers towards passion with a thread of practicality running through it. The female characters are fleshed out most wonderfully-all too human. There is love, there is an awareness of worldly responsibilities and finally Shekure, the main female protagonist realises that her love for her children is different and more fulfilling than her love for her husband Black, who has waited to wed her for twelve long years.

The Jewish clothier, Esther is a wonder to understand. Compassionate yet shrewd, she brings colour to the drab, snowy winter days.

Through miniature paintings, Orhan Pamuk brings forth the east west conflict in the nature of panting styles.

As Pamuk’s official website states,the book is about “death, art, love, marriage and happiness as well as a requiem for the forgotten beauties of pictorial art”.

An absolute delight, not to be rushed through, with each image and brush stroke savoured!

23 thoughts on “Musings on My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk

      1. yes, started , couldn’t complete. Now I cant even find the book! πŸ˜€
        Well I was amazed how someone could come up with such characters like red, black and so on. Simply amazing

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      2. When I was reading it, there came a point when I too could not go on. But I always push on and finish the book and I have never regretted it. Anyway, it must be a long time ago that you read it because there is no character called red :D. Yes, there is Black, who is good but Shekure, his love interest is character par excellence. She is beauty, enigma, intrigue and changeable. She was my reason for reading on.
        I think the way the world of miniaturists is described is something truly amazing. I could never have imagined so many illustrations talked about in such minute detail!

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      3. haha.. my name is red made me believe there would be a character in those coming chapters. πŸ˜‰ Yes it was a couple of years ago I guess.
        Well there is another book, Museum of innocence, he actually created a museum with all the minute things specified in the book. There goes his love for minute details! Btw I haven’t read this book as well. Just suggesting if you haven’t read it

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      4. Ok, will pick up Museum of Innocence, after a while. Let this overwhelming feeling wear out.
        After reading ‘Red’, i started reading about Turkey online… it somewhat whets your appetite for the place πŸ™‚

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      5. Yea, he gives vivid description about Istanbul and history of the place. He has even written a book
        Istanbul: Memories and the City.
        I am sure it is a great place to visit.

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      6. haha.. I am not much of a reader. I even forgot that i read this book once! Now you can see i don’t even remember what i have read. So when you ask i wont be able to answer properly πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Ok, I am appeased for now. Paulo Coelho- i have read a couple of books by him. I am a little mystified by his thinking process. He seems to go off on a tangent once in a while.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Interesting review! The book is quite a revelation in itself. My favorite would be the story teller! The sensitivity with which each character and emotion is handled enthralls. Another point would be the depth of his understanding of women and love.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My favourite narrator was the Jewess, Esther. Yes, I too was simply struck by his understanding of a woman’s psyche. It is revealing what Shekure says of love, marriage and children. How true, i felt!
      Thank you so much for reading. I was elated to know that you had read this book. I just had to share πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

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