Published in 2003, “Istanbul: Memories and the City” is the beautifully illustrated autobiographical book of the Nobel Prize laureate Orhan Pamuk.
The book not only allows the reader to discover the writer’s most intimate thoughts, feelings and family experiences, but it’s also a fascinating source of information about Istanbul’s recent history, all illustrated in black-and-white photographs. So, if you are passionate about literature, history and also photography, this will be the perfect fit for you!
“Istanbul’s fate is my fate. I am attached to this city because it has made me who I am.”
What I find the most interesting about Orhan Pamuk’s book, is that it definitely goes beyond being just an autobiography. The multi-layered narrative and the 37 chapters make you feel like traveling in time and discovering the ancient city in all its fascinating details. Istanbul is the city where Orhan Pamuk lived all his life, and the main inspiration for his writings and teenage paintings, so it almost becomes the main character in his autobiography too.
We also assist here at the struggle of young Orhan Pamuk to discover his purpose in life and his true identity, all beautifully paralleled with the Istanbul’s search of identity after becoming a Republic in 1923. The writer takes us in a fascinating walk along the Bosporus and the mysterious back streets and neighborhoods of the city, where we can discover the ruins of the unique Ottoman architecture.
“If I see my city as beautiful and bewitching, then my life must be so too.”
Orhan Pamuk describes Istanbul in a black-and-white atmosphere and the variety of photographs included in the book, being in the same chromatic palette, become an important part of the literary message and an indirect commentary of it. All the sensorial descriptions and the melancholic feeling of the city can come to life through them, which is a rarely met reading experience.
The majority of them were taken by the photojournalist Ara Güler, one of the most famous Turkey’s photographers and Orhan Pamuk’s close friend. They range from family images, to different city landscapes and Ottoman ruins, offering us an unique insight in the writer’s life, as well as in the atmosphere of his soul city, Istanbul.
“Here among the old stones and the old wooden houses, history made peace with it’s ruins; ruins nourished life, and gave new life to history.”
The wonderfully detailed descriptions, the intimate insight in the writer’s search of identity and the rich historical information, all framed by the black-and-white photographs, offer to any reader the feeling of belonging to Orhan Pamuk’s universe, leaving you for sure wanting to discover even more about it.