Literary Fiction

Museum of Innocence – Orhan Pamuk

on
6 April 2019
The Museum of Innocence Book Cover The Museum of Innocence
Orhan Pamuk
Fiction
Alfred a Knopf Incorporated
2009
Paperback
535

Ending his engagement to pursue a married cousin, Kemal unsuccessfully woos the woman over the course of nine years, during which he amasses personal effects that reflect his obsession and render him a laughingstock among his peers. By the Nobel Prize-winning author of My Name Is Red.

The Museum of Innocence is a novel developed with significant depth in relation to the main character, Kemal, and the obsession he has towards a beautiful woman, Fusan. Kemal never managed to secure a full relationship with Fusan because of his obliged engagement to marry Sibel. He always remained infatuated and felt she held his heart. The obsession manifested itself through Kemal collecting objects that had a connection with her, from cigarette butts to kitchen-ware. He would collect anything and everything that she encountered as though it harboured her essence, which he could derive pleasure from.

Kemal marries Sibel but he never fully commits his heart in his marriage, which he has pledged part of to Fusan. He has created this idol, which has grown in standing and adoration, that in his own mind is far superior to the reality. This is actually really sad and I do think more could have been made of his wife’s feelings, and what she contended with throughout their marriage.

Over the years Kemal collects so many items that he finally establishes a museum of memorabilia devoted to Fusan. A Museum of Innocence. Or a Museum of Impotence. Depending on your grip of reality. 🙂

Kemal is a very frustrating person and someone that I have very little empathy with. While we don’t have to love every character in a story it’s very difficult to connect with the story when you dislike ALL the characters. On a positive note, I appreciate the opportunity to look into the mind of someone so different and wonder was his conscious and subconscious mind a driving force to, hold onto something OR fear of letting go? So are you intrigued or frustrated, are you inspired or unimpressed, or are you wondering what other books I could have read during the time it took to read this 752-page monster? 

The writing is never in question and it conveys an imaginary into Istanbul that is wonderful and atmospheric. The level of detail of places and people is remarkable and while I’ve never been, it conveys the cultural and material clash between the West and the Middle East, especially with the more affluent of society.

Personally, I couldn’t recommend this book and I’ve often wondered why I saw it through. Maybe this was the book that convinced me that Not Finishing a book is a legitimate decision.

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Peter Donnelly
Ireland

Founder of The Reading Desk, supporting readers, authors, publishers and book industry. Top Reviewer on Amazon, Goodreads, and NetGalley peter@thereadingdesk.com

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