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My Name is Red and ‘Self-Narration’

The beauty of ‘self-narration’ in Orhan Pamuk’s murder mystery – My Name is Red.

As I sit to write this post I try to bring myself out of Black and Shekure’s romantic confrontation (it is not lust for lust is brazen) in Orhan Pamuk’s murder mystery – My Name is Red. There is something about the narration in this book, which ought to have a name, that gives you a feeling of being a mind-reader. Untill I find out what this narration style is named by the Oxford, I’ll choose to call it self-narration, wherein the plot has a protagonist yet the characters speak for themselves. Self-narration is a very innovative, brilliant and an enchanting experience.

When I first started the book it took me a while to understand: what’s the style, whose the protagonist, and who is the narrator. But once you get used to it you realise the beauty of it.

From the tons of books I have read (I’m not sounding bombastic, am I?) this one will always be special for its concept of self-narration. The speciality of this writing is that you know characters as they are and not as the protagonist derivatively knows them. You read every character yourself, and not as forced by the central-character.

Another distinctive feature of this book is its personification. Even the dead has a voice. Death proclaims its uniqueness, the dog its regret and the Gold-coin its counterfeitness. Even the non-living creatures have their say and as you read their voices you feel sad for the coin because it is counterfeit and wish that dogs had a larger voice just as their smelling capabilities.

Pamuk excellently takes you through the streets of Istanbul (Is that a cliche?). He gives you an opportunity to know every person walking the bylanes. You can read their minds, hear their inner voices as they think and not the way you feel they think. It gives the power to the reader to live within each of the character and knowing them without the protagonist’s help.

There are no assumptions, no detective work in the plot – just thoughts – carved by the miniaturist, spoken by the characters, encrypted by the author. It lets you go deep into a person’s skin, read a confused mind – fear of immorality, guilt, jealousy and every possible human emotion – and the way they compromise their feelings and follow the stimuli.

There is more to the book than self-narration, of course it is not even half-read yet. Love, lust, terror, truth, pain, blindness, jealousy, murder and even death – every aspect of human life is woven in the miniature. A seemingly micro-level work holds the power to capture the larger aspects human-life.

I am loving Pamuk.

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  1. Madhuri
    April 11, 2007 at 11:13 am

    You have commented on the book awfully well.

  2. April 11, 2007 at 1:48 pm

    Thanks! šŸ™‚

  3. Om
    April 25, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    Recently, I had almost came to read some works Orhan Pamuk, but on the spur of the moment I picked up some by William Darlymple. Your review on ‘My name is Red’ has again provoked me to make time for his works. I would certainly read them and write to you.

  4. Om
    April 25, 2007 at 2:28 pm

    Sorry for one grammatical error in the previous comment. Office life is really cumbersome.

  5. April 25, 2007 at 7:20 pm

    I am not sure about your literary tastes but I will be glad to know what you felt after reading the work.

  6. May 5, 2007 at 6:37 am

    I truly enjoyed reading this book. Not only does Orhan Pamuk have a stunning ability to transport one through time, but he does it in such a manner that one almost feels like living through the characters and seeing the world as they do.

    As an artist I was also amazed to learn of the philosophy of the meaning of art as viewed in a collective workshop environment. The definition of style was especially amusing.

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