When the Sultan commissions a great book to celebrate his royal self and his extensive dominion, he directs Enishte Effendi to assemble a cadre of the most acclaimed artists in the land. Their task: to illuminate the work in the European style. But because figurative art can be deemed an affront to Islam, this commission is a dangerous proposition indeed, and no one in the elite circle can know the full scope or nature of the project.
Panic erupts when one of the chosen miniaturists disappears, and the Sultan demands answers within three days. The only clue to the mystery—or crime?—lies in the half-finished illuminations themselves. Has an avenging angel discovered the blasphemous work? Or is a jealous contender for the hand of Enishte’s ravishing daughter, the incomparable Shekure, somehow to blame?
Pages: 417 (paperback)
Rating:7 out of 10
Source: checked out multiple times from the library
I picked up My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk to fulfill the November destination of the World Party Reading Challenge. It took me much longer than expected to finish the book. While the story was interesting, it is a murder mystery with many possible suspects, I found it hard to get through in the beginning. I was confused by the cast of characters, but I grew to enjoy the subplots as well as the main plot. Looking at paintings and artistic style to determine a murderer was very intriguing. I learned a lot about the connection between art and Islam.
The format of the book also drew me in as each chapter is told from a different perspective, including objects like coins and colors like red. The book one many awards and while I appreciated the story, I felt like I was not fully grasping all of the historical information. In spite of my slight feelings of inadequacy, I did appreciate the longing of the miniaturists to protect a practice which they had spent their whole lives perfecting.
For me, the character of Shekure best represented the tension between the modern and traditional world. She navigates societal norms and expectations in order to secure a place for herself and her children. It is impressive that she manages to create a life with one of the men she loves.
I am counting the book for the following challenges:
- 2011 Global Reading Challenge: The book is set in Turkey and I am counting it for the Europe continent.
- World Party Reading Challenge: Better late than never; the book is set in Turkey and counts for the month of November.