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Snow, Orhan Pamuk (2004)

Ala Sebald, this novel’s mostly-invisible but nevertheless main character is a novelist named Orhan Pamuk. Pamuk retraces the final steps of a poet friend of his named Ka, who has recently been murdered near his squalid exile’s apartment in Frankfurt. Four years before his death, Ka had made a fateful trip to the eastern Turkish city of Kars, which seems to be the Turkish equivalent of the UP. I can’t begin to recount all the events that take place during Ka’s visit to Kars, but I can say that they comprise a marvelous, bitter, hilarious, and deeply insightful portrayal of many contemporary and intractable conflicts. Church/State, Man/Woman, Art/Life, Information/Propaganda, Rational/Spiritual, East/West, Kurd/Turk, Socialism/Democracy, Turkey/Germany, Innocence/Experience . . . I could go on. It’s all in there. Reminds me of Fellini, Sebald, Nabokov, but it’s much lighter on its feet than any of them; its effects are amazingly subtle, even invisible. And completely delightful.

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