My Name is Blue?

May 10, 2009 § Leave a comment


 
Pamuk, whose My Name is Red I count as one of the best novels I have read, has a lot of things to say in Snow – about love, betrayal, poetry, and most of all, about contemporary Turkey, torn as it is in different directions – towards modern Europe, towards Islamic Iran, and towards an inward-looking militarist and strident nationalism.

The novel is not of the same standard as My Name is Red, but is nevertheless worth a read, and I think it is relevant today even outside its Turkish context. While we have been made aware, repeatedly, of the dangers of fundamentalist Islam, we are much slower in recognizing or condemning neo-fascist state terror, unleashed with subtlety in the name of patriotism, or the many crimes of apathy committed by the Westernized urban elite. Ultimately, it is the well-educated man from the city (the narrator, Ka) who betrays the trust of the crude, “uncivilized” villagers, proves morally inferior to the “terrorist” (intriguingly named Blue), and walks away unscathed. I was reminded briefly of Khushwant Singh‘s Train to Pakistan.

Is this situation unique to Turkey? Perhaps not.

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