It’s hard to identify a singular theme to the essays that make up Orhan Pamuk’s first collected book of non-fiction writing and that’s far from a complaint. From snippets of travelogues to reflections on the process of writing, these pieces are a fascinating glimpse into the life and mind of the Nobel Literature laureate.
There are delightful ruminations on Pamuk’s favourite authors, books and the very experience of reading. There are autobiographical vignettes – growing up, getting his first passport, the death of his father – as well as political analysis of Europe and Turkey. For fans of his fiction – which includes critically-acclaimed titles like The White Castle, My Name is Red and Snow, which he had completed three-fourths of at the time of publishing this book – Other Colours has a section offering behind the scenes contemplations on the process of writing these novels. As arguably the most famous writer on the international stage from Istanbul, Pamuk also brings the city to life with essays on its architecture, art and politics.
Pamuk’s Nobel lecture (he won the prize in 2006) My Father’s Suitcase closes the book with illuminating frankness on what it means to be a writer. Captivating and insightful, Other Colours is, in effect, a lyrical, fragmented autobiography of a literary genius.
While reviewing the book for The New York Times, Pico Iyer wrote, “what this collection gives us, by swiveling the lens from the window out toward the Bosporus to the man taking it in, is a chance to savour one of the inimitable literary storytellers of our time.”
Originally published in 1999. Translated from the Turkish by Maureen Freely, published in 2007.