Feature

Novel of the week: The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk

The Nobel laureate's new book is a spellbinding love story about a young Turkish man who destroys his life pining for the woman he slept with just before marrying someone else.

(Knopf, $28.95)

Romantic obsession has inspired many great novels, said Marie Arana in The Washington Post. Here comes another: a layered, “startlingly original” and spellbinding love story about a young Turkish man who destroys his life pining for the woman he slept with just before marrying someone else. “Every turn” in Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk’s narrative “seems fresh, disquieting, utterly unexpected.” When the protagonist begins stealing mementos of his lost angel and creating a “museum of innocence” from her cigarette butts, hair clips, and teacups, the ritual makes the reader become genuinely worried about his sanity. The story’s wistful tone at times robs it of “real urgency,” said Andrew Furman in The Miami Herald. But “the interplay between erotic obsession and sentimentality” is in fact the book’s great theme, said Tim Rutten in the Los Angeles Times. Obsession, Pamuk hints, is the closest thing to love that’s possible for any man “isolated by self-regard.”

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