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• Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Here is a list of the books we have read and reviewed and will be reviewing in the coming months at the UNWG Book Club:

2003
The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
The Human Stain by Philipp Roth

2004
Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Youth & The End Of The Tether by Joseph Conrad
English Passengers by Matthew Kneale
Samarkand by Amin Maalouf
Portrait In Sepia by Isabel Allende
Youth by John Coetzee

2005
Waiting by Ha Jin
Silk by Alessandro Baricco
Notes From The Hyena’s Belly by Nega Mezlekia
Crabwalk by Günter Grass
The Bell Jar by Silvia Plath
The Shadow Of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Remains Of The Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

2006
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Fear And Trembling by Amelie Nothomb
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
Eve Green by Susan Fletcher
The Palace Tiger by Barbara Cleverly
The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The Buddha Of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi
The Pickup by Nadine Gordimer

2007
The Bookseller Of Kabul by Asne Seierstad
The God Of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Embers by Sandor Marai
Palace Of Desire by Naguib Mahfouz
Sugar Street by Naguib Mahfouz
I’m Not Scared by Niccolo Ammaniti
One Hundred Years Of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
In The Country Of Men by Hisham Matar
The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve

2008
Staying On by Paul Scott
The Swallows Of Kabul by Yasmina Khadra
The Cairo House by Samia Serageldin
Keeping The World Away by Margaret Forster
The Speed Of Light by Javier Cercas
The Lady On My Left by Catherine Cookson
My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk
An Old Fashioned Arrangement by Susie Vereker
Tears Of The Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith

2009
The Miniaturist by Kunal Basu
Mothers And Sons by Colm Toibin
The Blood Of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani
So Many Ways To Begin by Jon McGregor
The Agüero Sisters by Cristina Garcia
The Wedding by Nicholas Sparks
Half Of A Yellow Sun by Chimamanda N. Adiche
That Summer In Paris by Abha Dawesar
The Island by Victoria Hislop

2010
Brick Lane by Monica Ali
The Harmony Silk Factory by Tash Aw
Girl With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
The Mission Song by John le Carré
The Conjuror’s Bird by Martin Davies
The Sea by John Banville
The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
26a by Diana Evans
The Road Home by Rose Tremain

2011
Desert by Le Clézio
Any Place I Hang My Hat by Susan Isaacs
Rules of The Wild by Francesca Marciano
My Name is Salma by Fadia Faqir
The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett
Nadirs by Herta Müller
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
The Yacoubian Building by Alaa El Aswany
Crow Stone by Jenni Mills

2012
The Other Hand (UK print) or Little Bee (USA print) by Chris Cleave. (Two different titles for the same novel depending on where you buy it).
The Siege by Ismail Kadare.
The Loner by Josephine Cox.
Let The Great World Spin by Colum McCann.
Okei by Mitsugu Saotome.
Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett / La couleur des sentiments / Gute Geister.
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga / Le tigre blanc / Der Weisse Tiger.
My Father’s Notebook by Kader Abdolah / Cunéiforme / Die Geheime Schrift.

2013
The Last Station by Jay Parini / Une année dans la vie de Tolstoi / Tolstojs Letztes Jahr.
The Invisible City by Emili Rosales / La ville invisible / Tiepolo und die Unsichtbare Stadt.
No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod / La perte et le fracas.
Illuminations by Eva Hoffman.
Sunset Oasis by Bahaa Taher / Oasis du couchant / Sonnenuntergangs Oase.
Ignorance by Milan Kundera / L’ignorance / Die Unwissenheit.
Light of the Moon by Luanne Rice.
Softcore by Tirdad Zolghadr.
The Musician’s Daughter by Susanne Dunlap.

2014
Honour by Elif Shafak / Crime D’honneur.
Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes / Des fleurs pour Algernon.
Three Strong Women by Marie NDiaye / Trois femmes puissantes.
Firmin by Sam Savage.
The Marseille Caper by Peter Mayle / Embrouille en Provence.
The Year Of The Hare by Arto Paasilinna / Le lièvre de Vatanen.
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain / Madame Hemingway.
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen / Amours et autres enchantements.
The Shadow Lines by Amitav Ghosh / Lignes d’ombres.

2015
The Map Of Love by Ahdaf Soueif / Lady Pacha.
The Secret History Of Costaguana by Juan Gabriel Vasquez / Histoire secrète du Costaguana.
Night Train To Lisbon by Pascal Mercier / Train de nuit pour Lisbonne.
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett.
The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell / Cette main qui a pris la mienne.
The Way To Paradise by Mario Vargas Liosa / Le Paradis-un peu plus loin.
The Sweetest Dream by Doris Lessing / Le rêve le plus doux de Doris Lessing.
The Detour by Gerbrand Bakker / Le détour de Gerbrand Bakker.
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson / La dernière conquête du major Pettigrew de Helen Simonson.

2016
Coastliners by Joanne Harris / Voleurs de plage.
The Rock Of Tanios by Amin Maalouf / Le rocher de Tanios.
The Heart Of A Dog by Mikhail Boulgakov / Coeur de chien.
In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin / La saison des mangues introuvables.
The Sense Of An Ending by Julian Barnes / Une fille, qui danse.
Balzac And The Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie / Balzac et la petite tailleuse chinoise.
Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi / Le ravissement des innocents.
Accabadora by Michela Murgia.
Hanna’s Daughters by Marianne Fredriksson / Hanna et ses filles.

2017
Marrying Mozart by Stephanie Cowell / Epouser Mozart: Le roman des soeurs.
Please Look After Mother by Shin Kyung-Sook / Prends soin de maman.
Kartography by Kamila Shamsie / Kartographie.
All The Names by José Saramago / Tous les noms.
In The Skin Of A Lion by Michael Ondaatje / La peau d’un lion.
Moderato Cantabile by Marguerite Duras.
Behind The Scenes At The Museum by Kate Atkinson / Dans les coulisses du musée.
The Little Paris Bookshop By Nina George / La lettre oubliée.
The Masterpiece by Anna Enquist / Le chef-d’oeuvre.

2018
The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds by Selina Siak Chin Yoke.
How It All Began by Penelope Lively.
The Heart Has Its Reasons by Maria Duenas / Demain à Santa Cecilia.
The Violinist Of Venice by Alyssa Palombo.
The Woman On The Orient Express by Lindsay Jayne Ashford.
The Briefcase by Hiromi Kawakami / Les années douces.
The Girl Who Saved The King Of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson / L’analphabète qui savait compter.
A Piece Of The World by Christina Baker Kline.
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan / Le club de la chance.

2019
Luncheon Of The Boating Party By Susan Vreeland.
Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land. / Le sang du monstre.
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles / Un gentleman à Moscou.
When The Future Comes Too Soon by Selina Siak Chin Yoke.
Stolen Beauty by Laurie Lico Albanese.
A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman / La vie selon Ove.
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey / La fille de l’hiver.
The Last Song Of Dusk by Siddarth Dhanvant Shanghvi / La fille qui marchait sur l’eau.
Leo Africanus by Amin Maalouf / Léon l’Africain.

2020
The Library Of Shadows by Mikkel Birkegaard / La librairie des ombres.
The Memory Shop by Ella Griffin / La boutique des petits trésors.
The Master Of The Prado by Javier Sierra / Le maître du Prado.
The Good Husband Of Zebra Drive by Alexander McCall Smith / Les larmes de la girafe.
The Bondmaid by Catherine Lim / La maîtresse de jade.
Ties by Domenico Starnone / Les liens.

2021
Together Tea by Marjan Kamali.
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami / La ballade de l’impossible de Haruki Murakami.
The Nakano Thrift Shop by Hiromi Kawakami / La brocante Nakano.
Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi.
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck / La terre chinoise de Pearl S. Buck.
How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee.
Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell / Hamnet de Maggie O’Farrell.
Pavilion Of Women by Pearl S. Buck / Pavillon des femmes de Pearl S. Buck.

2022
Slowness by Milan Kundera / La Lenteur de Milan Kundera.
Love In Exile by Ayse Kulin.
The Secret Life Of Book Club by Heather Woodhaven.
On Beauty by Zadie Smith / De la beauté de Zadie Smith.
The Little French Bistro by Nina George.
The Palace Of Dreams by Ismail Kadare / Le palais des rêves de Ismail Kadare.
Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.
The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones.
The Enchantress by Han Suiyn.
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig.

2023
A Confederacy Of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole / La Conjuration des imbéciles.
Chasing Cézanne by Peter Mayle / La femme aux melons.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng / La saison des feux.
The Elegance Of The Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery / L’élégance du hérisson.
The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain / La femme au carnet rouge.
The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald / La Libraire.

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• Saturday, September 27th, 2008

Ferit Orhan Pamuk was born in 1952 in Istanbul into a large, prosperous middle-class family, of civil engineer builders of railroads and factories from grandfather to father and uncle. He attended the American Robert College prep school in Istanbul and studied architecture at the Istanbul Technical University, which he left after three years, and instead graduated from the Institute of Journalism at the University of Istanbul in 1976. He decided to become a full-time writer, but especially a novelist.

Pamuk lived to see the change in Turkey from the conservative Ottoman traditions, giving way to western lifestyle; an East vs West theme that occurs often in his books. In 1982 Pamuk married Aylin Turegen, a historian, and a daughter, Rüya, was born in 1991,to whom he dedicated My Name is Red. Aylin and Pamuk were divorced in 2001.

In 2005 a criminal case was opened against Pamuk, for “insulting Turkishness”, based on a complaint filed by an ultra-nationalist lawyer Kemal Kerinçsiz, after he mentioned in a Swiss newspaper, the genocide of one million Armenians and the killing of 30.000 Kurds towards the end of the Ottoman Empire era, between 1915 and 1917. Pamuk was forced to flee Istanbul temporarily in 2006 because of a hate campaign against him, and took a position as a visiting professor at Columbia Univercity in New York. The charges against him were dropped in January 2006. Pamuk was made an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He currently lives in his beloved Istanbul in the same building where he was raised, and has become one of Turkey’s most famous, and most read, novelists.

Pamuk is known in Turkey as a social commentator, although he considers himself primarily a fiction writer with no political views, but he believes in freedom of speech and thought. Pamuk hopes that novels can help people to understand each other’s unique history. He said: “Obviously we cannot hope to come to grips with matters this deep merely by reading newspapers and magazines or by watching television.”

Pamuk’s bibliography is long. He became internationally known with his third novel: The White Castle, published in Turkish in 1985 and translated into English in 1992. But the real break-through came with his two novels: My Name Is Red, published in Turkish in 1998, translated into English in 2001, and Snow, published in Turkish in 2002 and translated into English in 2004.

He won several literary prizes and awards. He also won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2006. My Name is Red has been translated into 24 languages. It won the French Prix Du Meilleur Livre Etranger, the Italian Grinzane Cavour and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

My Name is Red is the story of Ottoman and Persian miniaturists and illustrators of the Ottoman court in the 16th century Istanbul, who were divided between the old and new, East and West tradition of painting,which lead to passion, violence, intrigues and murder; A killing by a fellow miniaturist out of art ideology conviction. After several narrations, the plot slowly unravels towards the end of the novel to identify the culprit of the two miniaturists, Elegant Effendi’s and Enishte Effendi’s murders.

The intensely heavy, involved subjects are divided into 59 chapters narrated by different voices: Human: Black, Shekure, Olive, Stork etc…Things: a tree,a coin. Animals: a dog,a horse. Unseen Spirits: a corpse, Death and Satan, Colour: crimson. The story thread is handed from one to the other voices, in a richly described, slow-paced novel. It’s fiction with a genuine historical background. Pamuk, throughout the novel, constantly and masterfully flows from fact to fiction. It’s a magical tale, reminiscent of The Thousand And One Nights, but with philosophical ideas about Art and the study of Islamic Illustration.

It took Pamuk six years to write My Name Is Red. He did intense research, which he said he thoroughly enjoyed. He was helped by well-preserved Ottoman records, and especially the records of the governor of Istanbul, which were well kept and published.

The first dramatic chapter of the book: “I am a corpse” sets the tone of one of the main themes of the story, the others being, religion,power, wedlock and the half-convincing romance between the two main characters, the non-charismatic Shekure, and the helplessly wandering Black,( the love story forms an integral part of the plot and the murder, and helps to break the density of the novel ). Also the very important and interesting extensive pedantic debates and views amongst the miniaturists, about how Art can be genuine and pure, the tie between God and the artist, and how the own style in Art, according to some master miniaturists, is wrong because the artist fails to paint the world as God sees it.

The very gifted miniaturists, like the Persian master Bihzad and the Ottoman master Osman and others, inflicted blindness upon themselves with a sharp needle for various reasons, in order to keep for ever in their memory the vision of God’s world, as Allah first saw it, freshly created. Or because they do not wish to be able to see anything after looking at the “Book of Kings”. Or to avoid being forced to fulfil orders received from the new masters of Herat to paint in a different style from the one they are accustomed to.

Art is noticeably the author’s subject of predilection. Pamuk who originally wanted to become a painter before deciding to dedicate his life to writing, is showing his artistic talent in his minute, colourful and vivid picture-like descriptions of Istanbul in late 16th century Ottoman era. The minutely detailed descriptions are made to look like a stroke of a paint brush. The same scenes are revisited by the writer in order to bring a new special effect.

Pamuk said: “Beginning at the age of six, I’ve always thought that I would be a painter. When I was a kid I used to copy the Ottoman miniature that I came across in books. Later, I was influenced by western painting and stopped painting when I was twenty when I began writing fiction.”

The “Red” in the title of the novel, to which Pamuk has dedicated a whole chapter, called “I am red”, evokes the colour red used in paintings and how apprentices applied it with their refined brushes to paper, and how it was also used to decorate walls and beautiful carpets. Red is also the colour of blood shed in battles. In fact, according to the author, red can be found everywhere.

Pamuk wrote: “My Name Is Red, is the novel that perplexes my mother: She always tells me that she cannot understand how I wrote it…There is nothing in any of my other novels that surprises her; she knows that I drew upon the stuff of my own life. But in My Name Is Red there is an aspect that she cannot connect with this son she knows so well, this son about whom she is certain that she knows everything…This must, in my view, be the greatest compliment any writer can hear: to hear from his mother that his books are wiser than he is…Because as I write these words at the age of 54 in April 2007, I know that my life has long since passed its midpoint, but, having written for thirty-two years now, I believe that I am at the midpoint of my career. I must have another thirty-two years in which to write more books, and to surprise my mother and other readers at least one more time.”