The Faber Book Club
Our online book club is run by Faber Members but is open to all. Each month, Faber staff from across the company select key works, from current releases to classic texts, and create a monthly set of suggested questions around titles selected, holding events three times a year for further discussion.
My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk
‘Wonderful.’ The Spectator
In the late 1590s, the Sultan secretly commissions a great book: a celebration of his life and his empire, to be illuminated by the best artists of the day – in the European manner. At a time of violent fundamentalism, however, this is a dangerous proposition. Even the illustrious circle of artists is not allowed to know for whom they are working. But when one of the miniaturists is murdered, their Master has to seek outside help. Did the dead painter fall victim to professional rivalry, romantic jealousy or religious terror?
With the Sultan demanding an answer within three days, perhaps the clue lies somewhere in the half-finished pictures . . . Orhan Pamuk is one of the world’s leading contemporary novelists and in My Name Is Red, he fashioned an unforgettable tale of suspense and an artful meditation on love and deception.
Suggested questions on My Name Is Red:
- Why do you think the book is called My Name Is Red? Can you think of any alternative titles?
- The tale of Hüsrev and Shirin is threaded through the story, and both Black and Shekure discuss it frequently. What do you think this tale means to them? How do you think it reflects their own relationship?
- The novel is told from a variety of different perspectives. How did the multiple narrators affect your reading experience?
- My Name Is Red is set in Istanbul in the sixteenth century, how do the customs of that time help to shape the way the plot develops? How do you think the story would be different if it was transposed into a different time or place?
- Pamuk has talked about how he was inspired by studying Islamic miniatures like those that he describes in the novel – can you identify how they might have influenced his writing style?
- The novel describes the different aims and traditions of Islamic and European art, particularly in regard to the artist’s style. Did your understanding of art change as a result of reading the book?
- This novel contains many different stories and plots that all work together; there are political tensions and artistic discussions, a love story and a murder mystery. How do you think the different plots affect each other?
- Were you able to guess the murderer? If not, who else did you think it might have been?
- How are women portrayed in this novel? How do the female characters like Esther and Shekure balance their duties and their desires? What does marriage symbolise for them?
- The novel ends with a character planning to write a book. How do you think his plans compare with the way other characters planned their paintings and illustrations?