The Museum of Innocence: Book summary and reviews of The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk

The Museum of Innocence

A Novel

By Orhan Pamuk

The Museum of Innocence
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  • Published in USA  Oct 2009,
    560 pages.

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Book Summary

It is 1975, a perfect spring in Istanbul. Kemal, scion of one of the city’s wealthiest families, is about to become engaged to Sibel, daughter of another prominent family, when he encounters Füsun, a beautiful shopgirl and a distant relation. Once the long-lost cousins violate the code of virginity, a rift begins to open between Kemal and the world of the Westernized Istanbul bourgeosie—a world, as he lovingly describes it, with opulent parties and clubs, society gossip, restaurant rituals, picnics, and mansions on the Bosphorus, infused with the melancholy of decay—until finally he breaks off his engagement to Sibel.

But his resolve comes too late.For eight years Kemal will find excuses to visit another Istanbul, that of the impoverished backstreets where Füsun, her heart now hardened, lives with her parents, and where Kemal discovers the consolations of middle-class life at a dinner table in front of the television. His obsessive love will also take him to the demimonde of Istanbul film circles (where he promises to make Füsun a star), a scene of seedy bars, run-down cheap hotels, and small men with big dreams doomed to bitter failure.In his feckless pursuit, Kemal becomes a compulsive collector of objects that chronicle his lovelorn progress and his afflicted heart’s reactions: anger and impatience, remorse and humiliation, deluded hopes of recovery, and daydreams that transform Istanbul into a cityscape of signs and specters of his beloved, from whom now he can extract only meaningful glances and stolen kisses in cars, movie houses, and shadowy corners of parks. A last change to realize his dream will come to an awful end before Kemal discovers that all he finally can possess, certainly and eternally, is the museum he has created of his collection, this map of a society’s manners and mores, and of one man’s broken heart.

A stirring exploration of the nature of romantic attachment and of the mysterious allure of collecting, The Museum of Innocence also plumbs the depths of an Istanbul half Western and half traditional—its emergent modernity, its vast cultural history. This is Orhan Pamuk’s greatest achievement.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Though its incantatory middle suffers from too many indistinguishable quotidian encounters, this is a masterful work." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. Fiction about obsession can often grow tiresome, but not so this novel, because Pamuk offers new views of the emotions and conflicts that, by definition, flow and roil through the mind of the obsessive." - Booklist

"This story is beautifully told, but at great length and in great detail; patient readers, be prepared." - Library Journal

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Rated 1 of 5 of 5 by Dorothy Clark
Waste of space
This book is boring in the extreme. I managed 105 pages, and each page was similar to the one preceding it. To my mind there were no redeeming features.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Vanesa
Excellent
An excellent book! I enjoyed it very much.
He is my favorite writer!

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Author Information

Orhan Pamuk Author Biography

Photo by Murat Türemis

Orhan Pamuk was born in Istanbul in 1952. He attended the architecture program at the Istanbul Technical University and then studied journalism at Istanbul University. He started to write regularly in 1974. He has written thirteen books, including The Museum of Innocence, Other Colors, Snow, and Fragments of the Landscape. His work has been translated into more than forty languages.

He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature on October 12, 2006, becoming the first Turkish person to win a Nobel Prize. He lives in Istanbul.

Link to Orhan Pamuk's Website

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