Silent House by Orhan PamukSilent House by Orhan Pamuk

Silent House

byOrhan PamukTranslated byRobert Finn

Hardcover | October 9, 2012

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In an old mansion in Cennethisar (formerly a fishing village, now a posh resort near Istanbul) the old widow Fatma awaits the annual summer visit of her grandchildren: Faruk, a dissipated failed historian; his sensitive leftist sister, Nilgun; and the younger grandson, Metin, a high school student drawn to the fast life of the nouveaux riches, who dreams of going to America. The widow has lived in the village for decades, ever since her husband, an idealistic young doctor, first arrived to serve the poor fishermen. Now mostly bedridden, she is attended by her faithful servant Recep, a dwarf--and the doctor's illegitimate son. Mistress and servant share memories, and grievances, of those early years. But it is Recep's cousin Hassan, a high school dropout, and fervent right-wing nationalist, who will draw the visiting family into the growing political cataclysm, in this spell-binding novel depicting Turkey's tumultuous century-long struggle for modernity.

Translated by Robert Finn

ORHAN PAMUK won the Nobel Prize for Literature. His novel My Name Is Red won the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. His work has been translated into more than 50 languages. The author lives in Istanbul.
Title:Silent HouseFormat:HardcoverProduct dimensions:352 pages, 9.5 × 6.6 × 1.3 inShipping dimensions:9.5 × 6.6 × 1.3 inPublished:October 9, 2012Language:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0307402657

ISBN - 13:9780307402653


Rated 3 out of 5 by from Book Review from The Bibliotaphe Closet: Silent House by Orhan Pamuk Silent House, by Nobel Prize in Literature winner, Orhan Pamuk, is a dramatic and detailed story of a Turkish family bound by a dark history beginning in Cennethisar, a former village near Istanbul. The novel is driven by its characters more so than its plot through a series of stream-of-conscious, inner forms of dialogue that recall sporadic memories and reveal the characters’ deeply rooted biases and fears. There is Recep Efendi, a 55-year-old dwarf who resides in the Darvinğlu mansion as a servant and loyal caregiver to Fatma Karatash-Darvinğlu, a 90-year-old, bedridden grandmother whom he refers to as Madam. And Fatma Darvinğlu , herself, a devout, religious, upper class woman whose age and obstinate beliefs chiselled her into a cold, proud, and bitter woman who punishes those around her due to her grief and disappointment in love, marriage, righteousness, and the inauthenticity of the modern world, which she misunderstands, fears, and loathes. The two of them together, await the arrival of her now grown grandchildren for their annual summer visit at Shore Avenue, No. 12, Cennethisar: Faruk, recently divorced and an associate professor and avid historian whose love for the Gezbe archives and its contained past inspires him to want to write a story of no obvious connections or interpretations; Nilgun, a beautiful woman whose warm affection, intelligence and leftist beliefs bring her unwanted attention and danger; and Metin, who considers himself the most practical of his siblings and an intelligent tutor of mathematics whose talent to multiply any pair of two-digit numbers in his head ostracize him from his pretentious group of friends. As the story slowly unravels, the reader learns about the grievances caused by Fatma’s ambitious and high-strung husband whose sole obsession to write and publish a scientific encyclopedia drives his marriage and finances to the ground. This hunger for knowledge is eventually passed down to their son, Doğan, who aspired to be more like his father, became a direct administrator in the east, and signed up for politics. Much to Fatma’s opinion and dismay, like his father, he intrinsically felt responsible “for all the crimes and sins and injustice in [the] world,” at which point she wished he didn’t feel that way so that he would listen to her instead and not suffer, nor be agitated. To read the rest of my review, you're more than welcome to visit my blog, The Bibliotaphe Closet: Zara @ The Bibliotaphe Closet @ZaraAlexis on Twitter
Date published: 2013-02-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Terrific Wonderful novel. Essential reading for anyone who wants to understand how Istanbul evolved over the past 40 years.
Date published: 2012-10-30

Read from the Book

Chapter TwoGrandmother Waits in Bed I listen to him going down the stairs one by one. What does he do in the streets until all hours? I wonder. Don’t think about it, Fatma, you’ll only get disgusted. But still, I wonder.  Did he shut the doors tight, that sneaky dwarf?  He couldn’t care less!  He’ll get right into bed to prove he’s a born servant, snore all night long.  Sleep that untroubled, carefree sleep of a servant, and leave me to the night. I think that sleep will come for me, too, and I’ll forget, but I wait all alone and I realize that I’m waiting in vain.    Selâhattin used to say that sleep is a chemical phenomenon, one day they’ll discover its formula just as they discovered that H2O is the formula for water. Oh, not our fools, of course, unfortunately it’ll be the Europeans again who find it, and then no one will have to put on funny pajamas and sleep between these useless sheets and under ridiculous flowered quilts and lie there until morning just because he’s tired.  At that time, all we’ll have to do is put three drops from a bottle into a glass of water every evening and then drink it, and it will make us as fit and fresh as if we had just woken up in the morning from a deep sleep.  Think of all the things we could do with those extra hours, Fatma, think of it!    I don’t have to think about it, Selâhattin, I know, I stare at the ceiling, I stare and stare and wait for some thought to carry me away, but it doesn’t happen.  If I could drink wine or raký, maybe I could sleep like you, but I don’t want that kind of ugly sleep.  You used to drink two bottles: I drink to clear my mind and relieve my exhaustion from working on the encyclopedia, Fatma, it’s not for pleasure.  Then you would doze off, snoring with your mouth open until the smell of raký would drive me away in disgust.  Cold woman, poor thing, you’re like ice, you have no spirit! If you had a glass now and again, you’d understand!  Come on, have a drink, Fatma, I’m ordering you, don’t you believe you have to do what your husband tells you.  Of course, you believe it, that’s what they taught you, well, then, I’m ordering you:  Drink, let the sin be mine, come on, drink Fatma, set your mind free.  It’s your husband who wants it, come on, oh God! She’s making me beg.  I’m sick of this loneliness, please, Fatma, have one drink, or you’ll be disobeying your husband.    No, I won’t fall for a lie in the form of a serpent.  I never drank, except once.  I was overcome with curiosity.  When nobody at all was around.  A taste like salt, lemon, and poison on the tip of my tongue.  At that moment I was terrified.  I was sorry. I rinsed my mouth out right away, I emptied out the glass and rinsed it over and over and I began to feel I would be dizzy. I sat down so I wouldn’t fall on the floor, my God, I was afraid I would become an alcoholic like him, too, but nothing happened.  Then I understood and relaxed.  The devil couldn’t get near me.    I’m staring at the ceiling.  I still can’t get to sleep, might as well get up. I get up, open the shutter quietly, because the mosquitoes don’t bother me.  I peek out the shutters a little; the wind has died down, a still night.  Even the fig tree isn’t rustling. Recep’s light is off. Just as I figured: right to sleep, since he has nothing to think about, the dwarf.  Cook the food, do my little handful of laundry and the shopping, and even then he gets rotten peaches, and afterward, he prowls around the streets for hours.    I can’t see the sea but I think of how far it extends and how much farther it could go. The big, wide world!  Noisy motorboats and those rowboats you get into with nothing on, but they smell nice, I like them.  I hear the cricket.  It’s only moved a foot in a week.  Then again, I haven’t moved even that much.  I used to think the world was a beautiful place; I was a child, a fool.  I closed the shutters and fastened the bolt: let the world stay out there.    I sit down on the chair slowly, looking at the tabletop.  Things in silence.  A half-full pitcher, the water in it standing motionless. When I want to drink I remove the glass cover, fill it, listening to and watching the water flow; the glass tinkles; the water runs; cool air rises; it’s unique; it fascinates me.  I’m fascinated, but I don’t drink.  Not yet.  You have to be careful using up the things that make the time pass.  I look at my hairbrush and see my hairs caught in it. I pick it up and begin to clean it out. The weak thin hairs of my ninety years.  They’re falling out one by one. Time, I whispered, what they call our years; we shed them that way, too.  I stop and set the brush down. It lies there like an insect on its back, revolting me. If I leave everything this way and nobody touches it for a thousand years, that’s how it will stay for a thousand years.  Things on top of a table, a key or a water pitcher.  How strange; everything in its place, without moving!  Then my thoughts would freeze too, colorless and odorless and just sitting there, like a piece of ice.    But tomorrow they’ll come and I’ll think again.  Hello, hello, how are you, they’ll kiss my hand, many happy returns, how are you, Grandmother, how are you, how are you, Grandmother?  I’ll take a look at them. Don’t all talk at once, come here and let me have a look at you, come close, tell me, what have you been doing?  I know I’ll be asking to be fooled, and I’ll listen blankly to a few lines of deception!  Well, is that all, haven’t you anything more to say to your Grandmother?  They’ll look at one another, talk among themselves, I’ll hear and understand.  Then they’ll start to shout.  Don’t shout, don’t shout, thank God my ears can still hear.  Excuse me, Grandmother, it’s just that our other grandmother doesn’t hear well. I’m not your mother’s mother, I’m your father’s mother.  Excuse me, Granny, excuse me!  All right, all right, tell me something, that other grandmother of yours, what’s she like?  They’ll suddenly get confused and become quiet.  What is our other grandmother like?  Then I’ll realize that they haven’t learned how to see or understand yet, that’s all right, I’ll ask them again but just as I’m about to ask them, I see that they’ve forgotten all about it.  They’re not interested in me or my room or what I’m asking, but in their own thoughts, as I am in mine even now.

Editorial Reviews

A New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice SHORTLISTED 2013 – Man Asian Literary PrizeLONGLISTED 2013 – Independent Foreign Fiction Prize “The reading experience is so very pleasurable….  The smooth and graceful translation, by Robert Finn, has met the challenge of finding subtle variations in syntax, vocabulary and cadence that will distinguish the different voices without making us distractingly aware of these linguistic distinctions…. I was glad to be transported to a seaside town in Turkey, to meet this odd family and their neighbors.” —Francine Prose, The New York Times Book Review “Its appeal is…universal…. There is a remarkable generosity of tone and a poised and hugely impressive grasp of human variety.” —Tom Deveson, The Sunday Times “A disquieting study of self-delusion and disappointed ambitions. It may be relatively domestic in setting but this is a novel grand in ambition; passionately written and fascinated by a family—and country—weighed down by its history and political ambivalence.” —Daily Mail“Using a repetitive, circular, incremental technique, Pamuk builds a multifaceted panorama distinguished by his customary intellectual richness and breadth.” —Kirkus Reviews “Pamuk shows the love and care he has for people with different ideas and preoccupations. He never succumbs to stereotypes…. Fanatical ideologies might occupy our heads and empty them of their contents, but it is literature like Pamuk’s that returns humanity to the silent house.” —The Daily BeastPraise for Orhan Pamuk:"Essential reading for our times.... In Turkey, Pamuk is the equivalent of a rock star, guru, diagnostic specialist, and political pundit: the Turkish public reads his novels as if taking its own pulse." —Margaret Atwood, The New York Times Book Review