Silent House: Book summary and reviews of Silent House by Orhan Pamuk

Silent House

By Orhan Pamuk

Silent House
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  • Published in USA  Oct 2012,
    352 pages.

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Book Summary

Never before published in English, Orhan Pamuk's second novel is the story of a Turkish family gathering in the shadow of the impending military coup of 1980.

In an old mansion in Cennethisar, a former fishing village near Istanbul, a widow, Fatma, awaits the annual summer visit of her grandchildren. She has lived in the village for decades, ever since her husband, an idealistic young doctor, ran afoul of the sultan's grand vizier and arrived to serve the poor fishermen. Now mostly bedridden, she is attended by her constant servant Recep, a dwarf - and the doctor's illegitimate son. Despite mutual dependency, there is no love lost between mistress and servant, who have very different recollections - and grievances - from the early years, before Cennethisar grew into a high-class resort surrounding the family house, now in shambles.

Though eagerly anticipated, Fatma's grandchildren bring little consolation. The eldest, Faruk, a dissipated historian, wallows in alcohol as he laments his inability to tell the story of the past from the kaleidoscopic pieces he finds in the local archive; his sensitive leftist sister, Nilgün, has yet to discover the real-life consequences of highminded politics; and Metin, a high school nerd, tries to keep up with the lifestyle of his spoiled society schoolmates while he fantasizes about going to America - an unaffordable dream unless he can persuade his grandmother to tear down her house.

But it is Recep's nephew Hasan, a high school dropout, lately fallen in with right-wing nationalists, who will draw the visiting family into the growing political cataclysm issuing from Turkey's tumultuous century-long struggle for modernity.

By turns deeply moving, hilarious, and terrifying, Silent House pulses with the special energy of a great writer's early work even as it offers beguiling evidence of the mature genius for which Orhan Pamuk would later be celebrated the world over.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Pamuk's belief that 'history's nothing but a story' adds substance to what is otherwise a dispiriting tale." - Publishers Weekly

"The publisher's probable hesitancy in bringing it out of "storage" is not surprising. Readers familiar with - and fond of - the provocative psychology and the defining social pictures presented in the author's works previously translated into English will likely face disappointment here. It is nearly certain that American readers will feel inadequate in fixing the narrative into its historical context and in understanding its political atmosphere, which Pamuk hints is about to change. - Booklist

"Using a repetitive, circular, incremental technique, Pamuk builds a multifaceted panorama distinguished by his customary intellectual richness and breadth." - Kirkus

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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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