Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Book Review

My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk

I wonder why Orhan Pamuk makes his central character to be a man who gives a vibe of being a little weak, a little naïve and definitely someone who needs to be cared for by a very strong woman. (The concept of central character though in itself is a very individual take for each different reader)

Black in ‘My Name is Red’ is like Ka from ‘Snow’ in many respects. Both journey back to a place they had once grown up in, carrying with them a vague undertone of lust and hope. Both hope to find solace in the company of a woman they have pined for a long time. Both are melancholy in their take of life and evergreen optimists in their take of love.

My Name is Red takes the viewer to the 16th Century and gives him deep insight in the works of great masters of Herat and Persia and the art workshops of Akbar Khan, The King of Hindustan. It is rich with fables and legends of the era long since extinct, of the lores of Husrev and Shirin, of Rustem and his lust and also, great masters like Bihzad who were immortalized without even leaving a signature to their works.

Shekure is the strong-willed woman who will do anything to safeguard her sons. Her mind is that of a shrewd woman who can wriggle out of any situation by using her womanhood as and when required. All of Black’s actions are carried out keeping Shekure in mind, what will please her and what will not, what will bring her closer to him and how. Black is love-stricken.

Reading this book is like getting the privilege to journey through time. It has vivid descriptions of colours, of the process of painting in the workshops of Istanbul as well as the conflict between art and religion. When the frankestein way of portraiture is knocking on the doors of an old tradition of art. ‘My Name is Red’ is all about those who give in to the temptation of making a life-like portrait while those who fear to break away from hundreds of years of history of miniature paintings.

-Gauri Gharpure