The red haired woman by Orhan Pamuk review

Publishers: Penguin Random House India

Genre: Fiction

Pages: 253

Translated from the Turkish by Ekin Oklap.

This is the story of Cem, who helps his father run their father’s pharmacy shop, Hayat. His father has leftist views and disappears one day. Cem cherishes dreams to become a writer. He spent his the summer helping out at a bookstore, Deniz in Besiktas.

Cem supports his mother by accepting to watch over his Uncle’s cherry and walnut orchard in Gebze. He becomes interested in the nearby well digging work because it’s much more interesting than watching the orchard. Seeing his interest, Master Mahmut offers him a job to become his apprentice which would make him earn four times the amount he would earn watching the orchard and he would be able to support his education.

They begin work to dig a well for Hayri Bey in Ongoren, thirty miles from Istanbul. Hayri Bey wants to open a factory in that area. Master Mahmut is a traditional well digger and very efficient in his work. They go to Ongoren for their evening breaks and to buy supplies. Master Mahmut and he exchange stories and life goes smooth till the day Cem meets the red haired woman.

Cem meets the alluring red haired woman, who is a member of the local travelling theatre company. He is smitten by her from first sight. He makes frequent trips to Ongoren to catch a glimpse of her.

Their attempts to find water are going in vain and one day a terrible accident befalls the well digger and Cem flees to Istanbul and resumes his education to become a geologist and gives up his dreams to become a writer. He moves on with his life but the accident day still haunts him. He becomes successful in life, gets married but remains childless.

One day, he learns about the secret red haired enchantress. Here is where the book really blows you off. I won’t give away the suspense now.

Why you should read this book:

● If comfortable, leisure reads are your thing, you’ll love it.

● A lovely but albeit slow read.

● Descriptive writing.

● If you want to start with Turkish literature, you can start with this book.

What I liked:

◆ The parallels between Sophocles’s Oedipus Rex and the story of Rostam and Sohrab from Shahnameh by Ferdowsi.

◆ Beautiful description of Shahnameh.

◆ Focusing on Father-Son relationship.

◆ Similarities between Turkish and Marathi (my mother tongue)

My first Pamuk and enjoyed it immensely!

My rating: 4/5

You can get a copy for yourself here.

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