21 Nov 2013


Books in the Afternoon Series

Orhan Pamuk’s new novel, “Snow” (translated from the Turkish by Maureen Freely; Knopf) , abounds with modernist tracer genes. Like Proust’s “Remembrance of Things Past,” it bares its inner gears of reconstituted memory and ends by promising its own composition. Its hero, a poet, goes by the name of Ka, a hard-to-miss allusion to Kafka’s K., the hero of “The Castle.” Its setting, the forlorn provincial city of Kars—though kar means “snow,” Kars is an actual place, in Turkey’s northeastern corner, near Armenia; it was destroyed by Tamerlane in 1386 and occupied by Russia off and on in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—suggests, in four hectic days during which the city is snowbound, the mountainous, debate-prone microcosm of Thomas Mann’s sanatorium in “The Magic Mountain,” with a lethal whiff of Dostoyevsky’s unnamed “our town” in “The Possessed.” The airy spirit of postmodernism also haunts the shadows and spiral staircases of Pamuk’s intricate narrative. Like Italo Calvino, Pamuk has a passion for pattern-making; he maps Kars as obsessively as Joyce did Dublin and marshals the nineteen poems that Ka writes there into the form of a diagrammatic snowflake. Not that “Snow” doesn’t flow, with suspense at every dimpled vortex. Like Raymond Queneau, Pamuk is gifted with a light, absurdist touch, spinning out farcical plot developments to the point of implying that any plot, in this indifferent and chaotic universe, is farcical. He is attracted to the unreal reality, the false truth, of theatrical performance, and “Snow,” in its political aspect, pivots on two nights of performance at the Kars National Theatre, in which illusion and reality are confoundingly entwined.

Read more:

A second book discussion will take place at 6 PM at the same location on November 21, 2013

Event Date: 
Thursday, November 21, 2013 - 6:00am to 7:00am
Sponsored By: 
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Carnegie Library, Main Library, Large Print Room , 4400 Forbes Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15213