The museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk: A review

Thirty-sixth book reviewed as part of the 130 Challenge.

It’s really difficult to capture the uneasy feeling of longing and desire that one gets when one can’t have their way. Some of us succumb to it and fall prey to obsession, going to great (and sometimes ugly) lengths to get what we want; almost always failing to get it. We all deal with such a heartbreak at least once in a lifetime and it is rare that someone comes out of it unscathed. So why would we want to read about such an unpleasant experience?

museum of innocence cover

I really like this picture on the cover

Because Orhan Pamuk, the Nobel laureate writes so well about it (and also because your book club decided to read this book).

From page one, you are in the throes of passion, experiencing every emotion and every feeling that Kemal goes through. His guilt, his love, his longing, his obsession, his disappointment and even his libido are all laid bare for you to experience through the pages. And as if that were not enough, you also get to experience Turkey through the eyes of Pamuk.

While the museum of innocence is very and indeed, in some parts brilliant, its sheer breadth is its undoing. Pamuk takes his ambition a step too far and describes everything in so much detail that it starts to get boring after a while. It gets repetitive and slow and you start to wonder if anything will happen at all. But if it was Pamuk’s intention to make me despondent by tormenting me with really mind numbing detail about the most mundane activities, then he has definitely succeeded.

Some people have complained about the sex and infidelity in the book, but I don’t think that it is in bad taste at all. In fact, I loved the description! What turned me off was the repetition and drudgery of having to read through it. People have also said in reviews that they didn’t like how Pamuk projects himself in the novel as a character. I quite liked that and I think it was a nice and naughty way of playing with his celebrity status.

I would suggest this book for the first 200 pages, after that, it’s going to be an uphill task plowing through 400 odd pages of basically description of a daily routine over many years.

The language is good and some of the passages really stand out. Do check them out.

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3 comments

  1. I once read “My Name is Red” for a book club. That was also a huge slog and put me off Orhan Pamuk, I’m afraid.

    Like

    1. Oh! Thanks for the heads up! That book is on my list but now I think I’ll skip it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. He writes great book titles, but boring books. What do I know? He’s the Nobel Laureate, not me.

    Liked by 2 people

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