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Snow

Cover of Snow

Snow

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The profound and moving novel from the winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize for Literature is finally available on audio. Dread, yearning, identity, intrigue, the lethal chemistry between secular doubt and Islamic fanaticism–these are the elements that Orhan Pamuk anneals in this masterful, disquieting novel. An exiled poet named Ka returns to Turkey and travels to the forlorn city of Kars. His ostensible purpose is to report on a wave of suicides among religious girls forbidden to wear their head-scarves. But Ka is also drawn by his memories of the radiant Ipek, now recently divorced.

Amid blanketing snowfall and universal suspicion, Ka finds himself pursued by figures ranging from Ipek’s ex-husband to a charismatic terrorist. A lost gift returns with ecstatic suddenness. A theatrical evening climaxes in a massacre. And finding god may be the prelude to losing everything else. Touching, slyly comic, and humming with cerebral suspense, SNOW is of immense relevance to our present moment.

The profound and moving novel from the winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize for Literature is finally available on audio. Dread, yearning, identity, intrigue, the lethal chemistry between secular doubt and Islamic fanaticism–these are the elements that Orhan Pamuk anneals in this masterful, disquieting novel. An exiled poet named Ka returns to Turkey and travels to the forlorn city of Kars. His ostensible purpose is to report on a wave of suicides among religious girls forbidden to wear their head-scarves. But Ka is also drawn by his memories of the radiant Ipek, now recently divorced.

Amid blanketing snowfall and universal suspicion, Ka finds himself pursued by figures ranging from Ipek’s ex-husband to a charismatic terrorist. A lost gift returns with ecstatic suddenness. A theatrical evening climaxes in a massacre. And finding god may be the prelude to losing everything else. Touching, slyly comic, and humming with cerebral suspense, SNOW is of immense relevance to our present moment.

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  • From the book

    The silence of snow, thought the man sitting just behind the bus driver. If this were the beginning of a poem, he would have called the thing he felt inside him the silence of snow.

    He'd boarded the bus from Erzurum to Kars with only seconds to spare. He'd just come into the station on a bus from Istanbul--a snowy, stormy, two-day journey--and was rushing up and down the dirty wet corridors with his bag in tow, looking for his connection, when someone told him the bus for Kars was leaving immediately.

    He'd managed to find it, an ancient Magirus, but the conductor had just shut the luggage compartment and, being "in a hurry," refused to open it again. That's why our traveler had taken his bag on board with him; the big dark-red Bally valise was now wedged between his legs. He was sitting next to the window and wearing a thick charcoal coat he'd bought at a Frankfurt Kaufhof five years earlier. We should note straightaway that this soft, downy beauty of a coat would cause him shame and disquiet during the days he was to spend in Kars, while also furnishing a sense of security.

    As soon as the bus set off, our traveler glued his eyes to the window next to him; perhaps hoping to see something new, he peered into the wretched little shops and bakeries and broken-down coffeehouses that lined the streets of Erzurum's outlying suburbs, and as he did it began to snow. It was heavier and thicker than the snow he'd seen between Istanbul and Erzurum. If he hadn't been so tired, if he'd paid a bit more attention to the snowflakes swirling out of the sky like feathers, he might have realized that he was traveling straight into a blizzard; he might have seen at the start that he was setting out on a journey that would change his life forever and chosen to turn back.

    But the thought didn't even cross his mind. As evening fell, he lost himself in the light still lingering in the sky above; in the snowflakes whirling ever more wildly in the wind he saw nothing of the impending blizzard but rather a promise, a sign pointing the way back to the happiness and purity he had known, once, as a child. Our traveler had spent his years of happiness and childhood in Istanbul; he'd returned a week ago, for the first time in twelve years, to attend his mother's funeral, and having stayed there four days he decided to take this trip to Kars. Years later, he would still recall the extraordinary beauty of the snow that night; the happiness it brought him was far greater than any he'd known in Istanbul. He was a poet and, as he himself had written--in an early poem still largely unknown to Turkish readers--it snows only once in our dreams.

    As he watched the snow fall outside his window, as slowly and silently as the snow in a dream, the traveler fell into a long-desired, long-awaited reverie; cleansed by memories of innocence and childhood, he succumbed to optimism and dared to believe himself at home in this world. Soon afterward, he felt something else that he had not known for quite a long time and fell asleep in his seat.


    Let us take advantage of this lull to whisper a few biographical details. Although he had spent the last twelve years in political exile in Germany, our traveler had never been very much involved in politics. His real passion, his only thought, was for poetry. He was forty-two years old and single, never married. Although it might be hard to tell as he curled up in his seat, he was tall for a Turk, with brown hair and a pale complexion that had become even paler during this journey. He was shy and enjoyed being alone. Had he known what would happen soon after he fell asleep--with the swaying of the bus his head would come to lean first on...

Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine So melodious is his voice, so seductive his accent, and so energetic his narration that I might be willing to listen to John Lee reading the Manhattan Directory. Happily, he has far, far richer material than that in this bottomless novel by the brilliant and bold Turkish Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk. In the story, a somewhat pompous and naïve expatriate Turkish poet returns to his native home, drawn by love and curiosity, and encounters all manner of characters who never conform to his expectations. The timbre of Lee's voice and his brogue might put you in mind of Sean Connery. Conveying an exotic, distinctly non-Western atmosphere, Lee displays the natural gifts of a storyteller who invests every sentence with verve and subtlety. M.O. (c) AudioFile 2007, Portland, Maine
  • John Updike, The New Yorker

    "A major work . . . conscience-ridden and carefully wrought, tonic in its scope, candor, and humor . . . entirely contemporary . . . with suspense at every dimpled vortex . . . Pamuk is gifted with a light, absurdist touch . . . In Turkey . . . to write with honest complexity about such matters as head scarves and religious belief takes courage. Pamuk [is] that country's most likely candidate for the Nobel Prize."

  • Margaret Atwood, New York Times Book Review "Not only an engrossing feat of tale-spinning, but essential reading for our times . . . Snow is eerily prescient, both in its analyses of fundamentalist attitudes and in the nature of the repression and rage and conspiracies and violence it depicts . . . [Pamuk] deserves to be better known in North America, and no doubt he will be."
  • Megan O'Grady, Vogue "Powerful . . . Astonishingly timely . . . A deft melding of political intrigue and philosophy, romance and noir . . . [Snow] is forever confounding our expectations."
  • John Leonard, Harper's Magazine "From the Golden Horn, with a wicked grin, the political novel makes a triumphant return . . . As if Nabokov and Rushdie had taken their circus act on the road, or Carlos Fuentes were Anatolian instead of Aztec, or Milan Kundera remembered how to laugh."
  • Richard Eder, New York Times "[A] great and almost irresistibly beguiling novelist . . . [Snow] is enriched by the author's mesmerizing mixes: cruelty and farce, poetry and violence, and a voice whose timbres range from a storyteller's playfulness to the dark torment of an explorer, lost."
  • Kirkus Reviews "Richly detailed . . . A thrilling plot ingeniously shaped . . . Vividly embodies and painstakingly explores the collision of Western values with Islamic fundamentalism . . . An astonishingly complex, disturbing view of a world we owe it to ourselves to better understand."
  • Bel Mooney, The Times "A novel of profound relevance to the present moment. The debate between the forces of secularism and those of religious fanaticism is conducted with subtle, painful insight into the human weakness that can underlie both impulses."
  • Sarah Emily Miano, The Observer "'How much can we ever know about love and pain in another's heart? How much can we hope to understand those who have suffered deeper anguish, greater deprivation, and more crushing disappointments than we ourselves have known?' Such questions haunt the poet Ka . . . [in] this novel, as much about love as it is about politics."
  • Julian Evans, New Statesman "Profound and frequently brilliant . . . Pamuk shows decisively that the European novel remains a form, and a freedom, for which we have reason to be thankful . . . Snow illuminate[s] the confrontation between secular and extremist Islamic worlds better than any work of nonfiction I can think of."
  • John de Falbe, Spectator "Snow has already been a bestseller in Turkey - given Pamuk's stature as a novelist and the novel's content it could hardly fail to be. But what makes it a brilliant novel is its artistry. Pamuk keeps so many balls in the air that you cannot separate the inquiry into the nature of religious belief from the examination of modern Turkey, the investigation of East-West relations, and the nature of art itself ... All this rolled into a gripping political thriller."
  • Ron Butlin, Sunday Herald "What a pleasure it is when we come across some really fine fiction now and again. From its opening words, Orhan Pamuk's new novel Snow stands out from the contemporary slush ... Without ever drifting into the doldrums of meditation, Pamuk has managed to write a novel of ideas in the form of a highly dramatic story. This he achieves by a skilful, and very natural blending of the techniques of poetry and prose ... When it first came out in Turkey in 2002, Snow angered Westernised Turks and Islamists alike. This ambivalence complements the novel's construction which grows, most satisfyingly, out of one single image - an elegance which gives to the whole a profound sense of unity, and fragility. Snow is a genuine tour-de-force."
  • Stephen O'Shea, Independent on Sunday "A melancholy farce full of rabbit-out-of-a-hat plot twists that, despite its locale, looks uncannily like the magic lantern show of misfire, denial, and pratfall th
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