Guidebooks, histories, biographies, novels...any good books having to do with Turkey and things Turkish.
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I enjoyed this account of Pamuk's relationship with his native city. He thinks hard about the "essence" of the place, goes off the beaten track and is not afraid to raise uncomfortable issues, such as the attacks on the Greek minority in 1955. There is humour too, as where the author relates that there was a piano on every floor of the family mansion; the residents were unable to play the instrument but felt that a piano was essential to the westernised image they were trying to project. This book is more "warts-and-all" than "in-praise-of" and is all the better for it.
I read this book after my last trip to Turkey and really regretted not having taken advantage of the insights that are provided in it. Pamuk is a terrific writer and/or he has a gifted translator but the book conveys something about the city (Istanbul) that I had never been able to put my finger on, what is referred to as melancholy. It is really strange too, because the city always seems so lively and up beat but yet has this sense of nostalgic loss and the photos in the book are wonderful accompanyments to the text which switches back and forth between the then and the now of Turkish life in the city. Highly recommended as a part of the prep for any Turkey travel.