Politics in a literary work are a pistol-shot in the middle of a concert, a crude affair though one impossible to ignore. We are about to speak of very ugly matters.
- Stendahl, The Charterhouse of Parma
Orhan Pamuk' s novel is set in the winter of 1992 in the city of Kars in the north-eastern part of Turkey.
The story is narrated by Pamuk himself as he tells of the poet journalist Kerim Alakusoglu, known as Ka, who has traveled to this remote town to write about the events surrounding a group of young women who are committing suicide rather than give up their headscarves. This is a very contemporary story of the clash between devout Islamists and the secular state that controls Turkey. Isolating the action in the snowbound town of Kars we learn of the tensions through Ka's interviews with various citizens. Pamuk's narrative style presents a pastiche of events that blend together to form the story with both love and politics coming to the fore. The many surprises and shocks of the story kept me interested and I found new fascination for the contemporary history of Turkey. The translation by Maureen Freely, who has translated several of Pamuk's novels, is excellent.
Snow: a novel by Orhan Pamuk. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 2005 (2002)