A sweeping, emotionally charged novel of the nature of romantic attachment and the strange allure of collecting — this is Orhan Pamuk’s greatest achievement.
It is Istanbul in 1975. Kemal is a rich and engaged man when he by chance encounters a long-lost relation, Fusun, a young shopgirl whose beauty stirs all the passion denied him in a society where sex outside marriage is taboo.
Fusun ends their liaison when she learns of Kemal’s engagement. But Kemal cannot forget her: for nine years he tries to change her mind, meanwhile stealing from her an odd assortment of personal items, which he collects and cherishes — a “museum of innocence” that he puts on display to tell the heartbreaking story of a love that shaped a life.
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Amazon Best Books of the Month, November 2009: The story of Kemal, the half-hearted industrialist who is the hero of The Museum of Innocence, Orhan Pamuk's first novel since he won the Nobel Prize for Literature, is a deeply private one, built around an often inexplicable obsession that he attempts to justify to the reader. In honor of Füsun, the poor, beautiful cousin he had a short affair with when he was 30 and engaged to another, he has hoarded a museum of relics, both of their time together and of the much longer time when, like Gatsby drawn by the green light on Daisy's dock, he hovered at the edge of her life, held in check (but yet held nearby) by the proprieties of Turkish society. From Kemal's passion Pamuk constructs a masterful meditation on time, desire, and possession, saturated with the details of the city of Pamuk's youth: the brand names, the film stars, the streets, the intricate social relations between classes and between modernity and tradition. It's as if the museum of the title was built in honor not of Füsun but of Istanbul, circa 1975. --Tom NissleyAbout the Author:
Orhan Pamuk is the winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize for Literature. Amongst his other achievements in literature, his novel My Name Is Red won the 2003 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. His work has been translated into more than fifty languages. Orhan Pamuk lives in Istanbul, in the building where he was raised.
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