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In an old mansion in Cennethisar, a former fishing village near Istanbul, a widow, Fatma, awaits the annual summer visit of her grandchildren. She has lived in the village for decades, ever since her husband, an idealistic young doctor, ran afoul of the sultan's grand vizier and arrived to serve the poor fishermen. Now mostly bedridden, she is attended by her constant servant Recep, a dwarf - and the doctor's illegitimate son. Despite mutual dependency, there is no love lost between mistress and servant, who have very different recollections - and grievances - from the early years, before Cennethisar grew into a high-class resort surrounding the family house, now in shambles.
Though eagerly anticipated, Fatma's grandchildren bring little consolation. The eldest, Faruk, a dissipated historian, wallows in alcohol as he laments his inability to tell the story of the past from the kaleidoscopic pieces he finds in the local archive; his sensitive leftist sister, Nilgün, has yet to discover the real-life consequences of highminded politics; and Metin, a high school nerd, tries to keep up with the lifestyle of his spoiled society schoolmates while he fantasizes about going to America - an unaffordable dream unless he can persuade his grandmother to tear down her house.
But it is Recep's nephew Hasan, a high school dropout, lately fallen in with right-wing nationalists, who will draw the visiting family into the growing political cataclysm issuing from Turkey's tumultuous century-long struggle for modernity.
By turns deeply moving, hilarious, and terrifying, Silent House pulses with the special energy of a great writer's early work even as it offers beguiling evidence of the mature genius for which Orhan Pamuk would later be celebrated the world over.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Ceanothus on 09-27-17
Don't bother, do try one of Pamuk's other books.
If you are looking for an interesting novel set in Istanbul or nearby, Pamuk is the author for you - but "Silent House" is not the book. Try almost any of his other books. I've been a huge fan of Pamuk's writing since I read "My Name is Red". Then I devoured and thoroughly enjoyed "Snow", "Istanbul" and "A Strangeness in My Mind". I thought I'd love ALL of his books, but I was wrong. The story in "Silent House" was so boring that after a while I just didn't care where it was going. I couldn't even make myself finish it, and that is very unusual for me. It was hard for me to commit to another of his books after that, but I did, and am glad I did, as I am now thoroughly enjoying "The Red-Haired Woman". He can craft amazingly complex stories with fascinating details and subtle undercurrents, it just didn't work in "Silent House".
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