Sunday, August 15, 2004

Atwood on Snow

Margaret Atwood reviews Orhan Pamuk's Snow in The New York Times.

"Snow is the latest entry in Pamuk's longtime project: narrating his country into being. It's also the closest to realism."

This time Pamuk explores modern-day Turkey's schizophrenic east–west personality (as opposed to the historical perspective in My Name is Red, which I really enjoyed).

Atwood seems to like it, and I trust her opinion. Smart cookie, she is.

Atwood also calls for the labelling of a new genre under which we could catalogue Pamuk's work:

The twists of fate, the plots that double back on themselves, the trickiness, the mysteries that recede as they're approached, the bleak cities, the night prowling, the sense of identity loss, the protagonist in exile — these are vintage Pamuk, but they're also part of the modern literary landscape. A case could be made for a genre called the Male Labyrinth Novel, which would trace its ancestry through De Quincey and Dostoyevsky and Conrad, and would include Kafka, Borges, Garcia Marquez, DeLillo and Auster, with the Hammett-and-Chandler noir thriller thrown in for good measure. It's mostly men who write such novels and feature as their rootless heroes, and there's probably a simple reason for this: send a woman out alone on a rambling nocturnal quest and she's likely to end up a lot deader a lot sooner than a man would.

This, of course, leaves me a little confused: does Atwood generally admire this type of book, this kind of man? She doesn't think much of women, does she? She wouldn't end up dead. Am I allowed to like those books? — I love them actually. What does that say about me as a woman? Damn her and her clever words.

An excerpt from Snow is available online.
Also reviewed here.
And Pamuk in interview.

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