Snow which means ‘kar’ in Turkish takes place in Kars; the easternmost city in Turkey, borders to Armenia and being one of the cosmopolitan centers with Turks, Kurds, seculars, Islamists, provincial and metropolitan, westerners and local cowards, braves, and more living together. The theme is a mirror to Turkey’s dark past, the conflict between the secular state and Islamic government, poverty, unemployment, and suicides.
Pamuk’s hero, a dried-up poet whose last 12 years passed in exile in Germany. He returns to Istanbul for his mother’s funeral. Then he’s assinaged by an Istanbul newspaper to investigate a succesive of suicides by woman and girls. He learns that they’re commiting suicide because of the pressure by the college authorities to take off their headscarves in class.
However it soon appears that Ka is not particularly interested in headscarves or suicides but has come to fall in love with his old schoolmate Ipek, who lives with his father and sister after, getting divorced from her husband. During all this chaos and series of events, Ka surprisingly regains his inspiration after years to write poems.
In Snow I saw a Pushkin taste and, he actually made a reference Pushkin’s visit to Kars in 1829 as a reporter to find out the truth as Ka does.
Pamuk claims to be not a political writer, however Snow gives us the absoulate political athmosphere in Turkey at the time. The war inside society.
One of the book’s most moving scenes comes when Ka meets the local Sufi sheikh:
‘May God bless you for accepting my invitation’ said the sheik ‘ I saw you in my dream. It was snowing.’
‘I saw you in my dream, Your Excellency,’ said Ka. ‘ I came here to find happiness’
Ka explains to the sheik his own paradox: he longs for faith but finds it impossible to accept the strictures and backwardness of Islam. ‘I want to believe in the God you believe in and be like you. But there is a Westerner inside me, my mind is confused’ The Shiekh gently consoles him (at one point he jokingly says, ‘Do they have a different God in Europe’)
Lastly I want to show you a couple quates from book which excite me.
“There are two kind of men,’ said Ka, in a didactic voice. ‘The first kind does not fall in love until he’s seen how the girls eat a sandwich, how she combs her hair, what sort of nonsense she cares about, why she’s angry at her father, and what sort of stories people tell about her. The second type of man — and I am in this category — can fall in love with a woman only if he knows next to nothing about her.”
“Happiness is holding someone in your arms and knowing you hold the whole world.”
Snow is very much worth to give a shot. I’m leaving free ebook version of it. Please do send me your views if you read.