The Black Book by Orhan Pamuk - review by Iain Weatherby

Iain Weatherby

His Discovery Was His Entire Life

The Black Book


Faber & Faber 400pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

For a start it’s a very good title. It’s a wonder it hasn’t been used before (or perhaps it has). Why it’s called what it is is more problematic. The name conjures up secrets (‘little black book’), sacred things (bibles, prayer books), official records (perhaps), darkness (of course), mystery (certainly). This last attribute suits it well enough to begin with, and at the very end the author lets us in on some of the secret, but for the bulk of the book the title is just another mystery for us to fathom, and it is full of mysteries.

Galip, an Istanbul lawyer, returns home one evening to find a nineteen-word note written in green ball-point pen. The pen that wrote it has gone and so has its author, his beloved wife and cousin, Riiya (in Turkish, ‘a dream’). Unable to accept the note as a simple ‘Dear John’

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