Book Review: A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk

The sea was as dark as dreams and as deep as sleep

Have you read a book that calms you down? That soothes your soul? That which flows on its own, and before you know it you start wishing it would never end..


“A Strangeness in My Mind” is one such novel. A novel of epic proportions, this is Orhan Pamuk at his best. The “strangeness” about this novel is that throughout its vast scope of literary genius nothing of significance happens. Yet it draws you in and relaxes you, like only good books can.

The central character of this book is Mevlut, a poor “Boza” seller in the streets of Istanbul. Struggling to adapt to a fast changing city Mevlut keeps on hoping for a better tomorrow even in all his failures. The book captures all his hopes, aspirations and failures beautifully. The love he has for the city is almost a touch autobiographical from the author. If you loved Pamuk’s “Istanbul” then this book is definitely for you. Slowly and slowly you would start falling in love with this grand old city.

At the heart of this novel is a love story. Of Mevlut and his wife Rayiha. Of Mevlut and his craft. Of Mevlut and his city. A man fiercely protecting his fast dying craft of Boza selling. A man loving his wife to the last day. A man discovering his city through all his life’s joy and despair.

In a city you can be alone in a crowd,and in fact what makes the city a city is that it lets you hide the strangeness in your mind inside its teeming multitudes

The book is also more than just about a Boza seller. There are so many voices in this novel. This style of writing is unique where many people involved in Mevlut’s life share their own story, in their own voices.

As the book grows on you, every trivial detail of this man’s life seem important. And then you come to realise how the uneventful things in our life means the most to us and our loved ones. Mevlut is a failure by society’s standards in a thriving city. But he never moans this and neither the author. He is average and honest, and he thrives in that.

The book sails you through a city. Through Mevlut and his life and love. And as he keeps on searching for a meaning to his “strangeness” in an endless sea of possibilities; you might just stop and reflect back on your own life. In all its glories and defeats.

This is probably the best work of Orhan Pamuk yet. It stays with you long after you have read the last page. So much so that long after it ends, you might just hear the Boza seller crying out, “Bozaaaaa, Good Bozaaa”

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