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Review: The White Castle by Orhan Pamuk (Global Reading Challenge and Bibliophilic Book Challenge)

Part of Dorte’s Global Reading Challenge that I am participating in was to discover a new author or read a book from a country or state on your own continent that you have not read before. With this book I have done both. I have also managed to kill two birds with one stone by combining both outside challenges I am participating in, the Global challenge and the Bibliophilic Book challenge).

Year published: 1979 (English translation: 1990, by Victoria Holbrook)
Genre: Historical novel
Setting & time: (mostly) Turkey, 17 century.

The former imperial astrologer to the Sultan of Turkey tells the story of two men, one an enslaved Venetian and the other his Turkish master, who, over their long acquaintance, come to know each other almost better than they know themselves.

This is an interesting novel, a historical tale of an unhealthy relationship of love and loathing between two men who cannot part from each other, one because he is the other’s slave and fears punishment for trying to escape more than he desires freedom, and the other because he is obsessed with his slave-companion.

This is one of those books that are published under the cover story of being found manuscripts, which in itself makes it a bibliobook, or a book about books, but additionally the narrator speaks of this manuscript, which he says he has been working on for 16 years, and throughout the narrative he again and again returns to books, both the reading and writing of them.

I found this an interesting story rather than a captivating one. It is very straightforward in the telling, and a quick read, but one that gives the reader much to ponder. I can’t say too much for risk of giving away a couple of important plot twists, but will recommend it, especially to readers who enjoy historical novels and stories about twisted psychology. 3 stars.


It sounds pretty good to me. I'm doing the Bibliophilic Books Challenge too, and I am also trying to read a book by every Nobel Laureate, so this would count towards two goals.

Good review!
Bibliophile said…
Thanks :-)

It is an interesting book, and, I think, a good introduction to Pamuk.

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