My partner is part of a book club at work, and I thought it might be fun to read the books myself, which is how I came across Orhan Pamuk’s Snow. The novel follows Ka, a Turkish poet living as a political exile in Germany for the past 12 years. After returning to Turkey for his mother’s funeral (which the book doesn’t spend any time on), he heads to the border town of Kars, ostensibly to write an article on girls who have been dying by suicide there. However, it’s clear from that start that he went largely because of his interest in the beautiful, and newly divorced, Ipek.
The story takes place over a three-day snowstorm and is narrated by a friend of Ka’s, who visits Kars years after the events of the book to investigate what happened. Ka quickly falls in love with Ipek while also becoming immersed in the politics of the town. He also begins writing poetry again, after having been blocked for a few years. In addition to plentiful descriptions of snow, the book is full of dialogue about love and religion, particularly because of the tension between the town’s Islamists and secularists.
Ka is not a particularly likable character, which can be said about several other characters, as well, and I assume he is intentionally written this way. He is, however, human and at times seems emotionally stunted. He is focused on pursuing happiness while often convinced that it’s not possible for him to achieve, and some of his self-serving behavior is morally ambiguous, at best.
I enjoyed reading the book and generally found it engaging, although perhaps not quite as immersive an experience as I’d have liked. Overall it’s worth a read.