The White Castle: A Novel

The White Castle - Orhan Pamuk, Victoria Holbrook Orhan Pamuk has won the Nobel Prize for literature and is supposed to be the premier man of letters in contemporary Turkey. However, I noted that more than one person on my friends' list on Goodreads was less than enthused with his books. Thus, instead of reading his more famous My Name is Red or Snow, I deliberately chose the slimmest volume on the shelf for my introduction--The White Castle--a mere 161 pages--yet this couldn't hold me even that far. Set in seventeenth century Turkey, it's the first person account of a Venetian captured and enslaved by the Turks. He comes to be owned by a master who is his physical double, who demands he teach him all he knows. Basically, what lost me was the style. And not because it was difficult or abstruse. Despite quotes comparing Pamuk to such writers as DeLillo, Borges, Nabokov and Proust, the prose in this novel is very simple--even simplistic. I never felt pulled in by the story or characters. The picture painted by the prose felt sketchy. There's very little dialogue, none of which is off-set. It's not so much a back and forth but rather a lot is reported or summarized. A lot of the events were summarized too rather than shown. Nothing made me feel a sense of time or place or characters in ways vivid enough to feel worth my time--so I stopped. And I think that's enough of Pamuk for me.