Never before published in English, Silent House, Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk’s second novel is the moving story of a family gathering in the political shadow of the impending revolution of 1980.
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In an old mansion in Cennethisar, a former fishing village near Istanbul, an old 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, first arrived to serve the poor fishermen. Now mostly bedridden, she is attended by her faithful servant Recep, a dwarf and the doctor’s illegitimate son. Under the creeping shadow of right-wing nationalism and political revolution, they share memories, and grievances, of the early years, before their home became a high-class resort.
Her visiting grandchildren are Faruk, a dissipated failed historian; his sensitive leftist sister, Nilgun, has yet to discover the real-life consequences of highminded politics; and Metin, a high school student drawn to the fast life of the nouveaux riches, who dreams of going to America. But it is Recep’s nephew Hassan, a high-school dropout, lately fallen in with right-wing nationalism, who will draw this family into the revolution and 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 energy of a great writer’s early work even as it offers beguiling evidence of the mature genius for which Orhan Pamuk, winner of the Nobel Prize in 2006, would later be world renowned.
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