Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Review: "The White Castle" by Orhan Pamuk

The one thing I knew about Orhan Pamuk before reading any of his books was that he is romantically involved with Kiran Desai, a writer 20 years younger than he is. A silly fact to know about a Nobel winning author, but after reading his short novel, The White Castle, I can tell you that he is not the most interesting writer between the pages, because this slim 150 page novel is the hardest short novel I have read since I trudged through Heart of Darkness many years ago. The book takes an intriguing story that involves grim executions, a promising frame tale involving a lost text being found by a scholar, and even the creation of a massive dangerous weapon, and proceeds to suck out all the fun that those things would bring in the hands of a writer who wants to entertain the reader instead of educate them. The novel begins when a historian finds the text that will be covered for the remainder of the book. The story that was found tells of an astronomer on ship from Venice to Naples is captured by the Turks and sent to Turkey as a prisoner. There, he meets a man who looks just like him, who he refers to as “Hoja”. This newfound doppelganger cruel at first, but soon involves the narrator in his plans. Like all books that I find boring, it is at least well written, and I am fully aware of Pamuk’s ability, and why he won the Nobel Prize in 2006. It is just not an entertaining read, with many historical digressions that take away from parts I would have much rather read about. All these factors make for an uninteresting and forgettable novel. I will read Pamuk again eventually, just not in the near future.

Rating: 2/5

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