My Name Is Red

A Philosophical Art Mystery, By Orhan Pamuk

Rating: 4 (4)

Huh. I liked this book in theory. My Name is Red reads like a philosophical mystery, except it’s only about art philosophy. It’s a story about a murder among a group of miniaturists (which are basically artists), and it is set in the Ottoman Empire. The book itself was originally written in Turkish.

The idea is that they are working on book of illustrations that reflects a style that is considered to be sacrilegious in that it is considered idolatry, detracting from the glorification of God, etc. Among them, there has been a murder of one of the miniaturists. There’s more to the plot line than just this, but the main crux of the novel is how the main character, Black, investigates by speaking to the suspects regarding their views on various aspects of art, while at the same time the unidentified murderer discusses his thoughts as well.

Theoretically, you should be trying to figure out who is the murderer based on these discussions of art philosophy. It was good in terms of writing, pacing, etc., but I think my appreciation of this book is largely on an academic level. If you think you’d enjoy theoretical discourses on art, for example considering what “is” art and whether things like personal style detracts from art and the representation of “truth,” then you’d probably love this book. It might be a little inaccessible to some, but it’s definitely worth a read for art lovers or anyone looking to venture into very well-written, but unfamiliar territory.

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