My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk
At once a fiendishly devious mystery, a beguiling love story, and a brilliant symposium on the power of art, My Name is Red is a transporting tale set amid the splendor and religious intrigue of sixteenth-century Istanbul, from one of the most prominent contemporary Turkish writers.
The Sultan has commissioned a cadre of the most acclaimed artists in the land to create a great book celebrating the glories of his realm. Their task: to illuminate the work in the European style. But because figurative art can be deemed an affront to Islam, this commission is a dangerous proposition indeed. The ruling elite therefore mustn't know the full scope or nature of the project, and panic erupts when one of the chosen miniaturists disappears. The only clue to the mystery — or crime? — lies in the half-finished illuminations themselves. Part fantasy and part philosophical puzzle, My Name is Red is a kaleidoscopic journey to the intersection of art, religion, love, sex, and power.
My Name is Red has been sitting on Mt. TBR since Tuesday, August 29, 2006. I've really wanted to read it so my train-travel weekend (8.5 hours down, 8 hours back) seemed like a perfect opportunity. So, into my bag, I threw it and The Floating Brothel (which I never even got around to starting).
I enjoyed My Name is Red, but I have to say that it was not the right selection at all for this trip. My overtired brain just couldn't fully appreciate the novel with its detailed storyline and all Pamuk's interesting narrative devices. I slogged through it, a chapter to two at a time, never getting into a real groove with my reading even when I had a huge chunk of time to devote to it. I have to say that My Name is Red is definitely a book that I'll want to reread. I know that I'll have a completely different experience reading it next time and that I'll enjoy it more being able to immerse myself completely in the story and its complexities.