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by rejoyce on August 18, 2007In Snow, by Orhan Pamuk, a Nobel Prize recipient, its poet-protagonist Ka returns from exile in Germany to his hometown Istanbul to investigate the suicide of young girls as a result of a head scarf ban. While repression of Muslim women is a theme, the epic novel also explores the conflict between Western secularism and Islamist fundamentalism, state police repression, Kurdish separatism, terrorism, and the mediation of reality through technology, so that "all the world's a stage." Pamuk effectively dramatizes the poverty and grievances in Turkey, the ideological and theocratic murk of Middle Eastern politics, the felt passions and violence. One implausibility: Ka's poems come fully formed on the page; he apparently never revises. Snow is one of the few contemporary novels I've read that plunges the reader deeply into the intrigue of this shadow-world; Pamuk is too knowing not to reduce such complication into an oversimplified "clash of civilizations."
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