Pamuk, Orhan "The Museum of Innocence" (Turkish: Masumiyet Müzesi) - 2008
Until now, I have loved every single book I read by Orhan Pamuk. That hasn't changed after reading this piece of art. The author has a wonderful eye for detail, he manages to describe anything in a way that you imagine having it in front of your eyes, feeling the sentiments the characters feel. You rejoice with them and mourn with them. A wonderful author who will hopefully write many many more books.
In this story, shortly before marrying, a guy falls in love with another girl. He becomes totally obsessed with her, his whole life changes, he becomes one of those creepy guys who follow a girl around without ever having a chance of going out with her. Still, the years pass and so does his relationship with the world in general and the girl in particular. The protagonist collects all sorts of stuff that reminds him of the girl and the relationship and puts it together in an apartment and eventually starts a museum with his collection. All this is described in a unique way, you feel the years passing along, they seem to go slow and fast at the same time, just as in real life.
This book reads almost like a biography and I had the feeling that the author passed on parts of himself. He actually appears in the book under his real name which is quite funny. And the novel doesn't miss out on humour, either, it is both sad and funny at the same time. We also follow the protagonist, not just on his visits into life but also into his soul. There is 1uite a philosophical approach at times. This book leaves you quite breathless for a while. It is magnificent. I love the author.
After the success of the book, Orhan Pamuk has established an actual "Museum of Innocence". (Unfortunately, the website I found is only in Turkish: Museum of Innocence/Masumiyet Müzesi but there is a gallery in English in the Guardian)
From the back cover: "The Museum of Innocence - set in Istanbul between 1975 and today - tells the story of Kemal, the son of one of Istanbul's richest families, and of his obsessive love for a poor and distant relation, the beautiful Füsün, who is a shop-girl in a small boutique. The novel depicts a panoramic view of life in Istanbul as it chronicles this long, obsessive, love affair between Kemal and Füsün; and Pamuk beautifully captures the identity crisis experienced by Istanbul's upper classes who find themselves caught between traditional and westernised ways of being. For the past ten years, Pamuk has been setting up a museum in the house in which his hero's fictional family lived, to display Kemal's strange collection of objects associated with Füsün and their relationship. The museum will be called The Museum of Innocence and it opens in 2010."
Orhan Pamuk "who in the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures" received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2006.
Orhan Pamuk received the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade (Friedenspreis) in 2005.