Other Colours: Writings on Life, Art, Books and Cities
by Orhan Pamuk
Faber £9.99, 433 pages
FT Bookshop price: £7.99
The first 100 pages of flimsy vignettes and earthbound aperçus give way to livelier fragments and meatier essays in this substantial collection.
After a privileged upbringing in the westernised, secular quarter of Istanbul, Pamuk's lengthy and celebrated writing career has been driven by his experiences of tradition colliding with modernity, east with west, authenticity with marginality, and the anxiety of cultural influence.
Admiration for Dostoevsky and the medicinal value of Nabokov jostle with sober reflections on Turkey's rising tide of anti-European sentiment. A circumspect piece on the Rushdie affair reminds us of Pamuk's own domestic vilification for having "publicly denigrated Turkish identity" after his assertion that a million Armenians had died in Turkey.
A short story and Pamuk's Nobel lecture conclude an occasionally lofty but robust and insightful engagement with art, politics, literature and the pressing but delicate questions that resonate from Turkey's knocking on Europe's door.