Andrew Motion reviews “The Red-Haired Woman” by Orhan Pamuk

Andrew Motion in The Guardian:

3308Orhan Pamuk has written better than most contemporary novelists about the relationship between east and west. His great book Istanbul: Memories of a City mingles history, personal reminiscence and political analysis to produce a panorama of the city that is also a map of the world – at once clearly drawn and poetically evocative. Much the same goes for his novels. While they explore separations, they look for elements that unite.

The Red-Haired Woman, translated by Ekin Oklap, is driven by the same obsessions, but develops them in suggestive new directions. While establishing a link “between the nature of a civilisation and its approach to notions of parricide and filicide”, it blends the close observation of details with the broad brushstrokes usually associated with myth-making and fables.

There are three sections, the first two apparently narrated by Cem Celik, the teenage son of a leftist who in the mid 1980s is snatched from his family by the state police, and later abandons his home for more selfish reasons. This leaves Cem searching for a father substitute, which he finds in the figure of Master Mahut, a well-digger who employs him as an apprentice.

More here.