From the acclaimed author of My Name Is Red ( a sumptuous thriller John Updike; chockful of sublimity and sin New York Times Book Review), comes a spellbinding tale of disparate yearnings for love, art, power, and God set in a remote Turkish town, where stirrings of political Islamism threaten to unravel the secular order. Following years of lonely political exile in Western Europe, Ka, a middle-aged poet, returns to Istanbul to attend his mother s funeral. Only partly recognizing this place of his cultured, middle-class youth, he is even more disoriented by news of strange events in the wider country: a wave of suicides among girls forbidden to wear their head scarves at school. An apparent thaw of his writer s curiosity a frozen sea these many years leads him to Kars, a far-off town near the Russian border and the epicenter of the suicides. No sooner has he arrived, however, than we discover that Ka s motivations are t purely journalistic; for in Kars, once a province of Ottoman and then Russian glory, w a cultural gray-zone of poverty and paralysis, there is also Ipek, a radiant friend of Ka s youth, lately divorced, whom he has never forgotten. As a swstorm, the fiercest in memory, descends on the town and seals it off from the modern, westernized world that has always been Ka s frame of reference, he finds himself drawn in unexpected directions: t only headlong toward the unkwable Ipek and the desperate hope for love or at least a wife that she embodies, but also into the maelstrom of a military coup staged to restrain the local Islamist radicals, and even toward God, whose existence Ka has never before allowed himself to contemplate. In this surreal confluence of emotion and spectacle, Ka begins to tap his dormant creative powers, producing poem after poem in untimely, irresistible bursts of inspiration. But t until the sws have melted and the political violence has run its bloody course will Ka discover the fate of his bid to seize a last chance for happiness. Blending profound sympathy and mischievous wit, Sw illuminates the contradictions gripping the individual and collective heart in many parts of the Muslim world. But even more, by its narrative brilliance and comprehension of the needs and duties
Orhan Pamuk s novel My Name Is Red won the 2003 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. His work has been translated into more than twenty languages. He lives in Istanbul. Orhan Pamuk s My Name Is Red, The New Life, and The White Castle are available in Vintage paperback.