Most of Pamuk’s novels have mined Istanbul’s romantic state of decay, its unique end of empire melancholy, which – even in its crudeness – has always been ripe for a novelist or poet of his sensibility. Still, it’s rather less clear what he would make of the crass “Dubaization” of the city’s countless multi-million dollar housing projects; or the prospect of its proliferating Disney-fied urban regeneration projects, (as well as the emptying out of the inconvenient poor from these “regeneration areas”); or the almost daily opening of hollow and brightly-lit new shopping malls in fake “historically recreated” neo-Ottoman buildings. Unfortunately for souls like Pamuk, it is these far less poetically-inspiring phenomena that are increasingly coming to define life in the 21st century Istanbul. This book should perhaps therefore be read as a somber eulogy for a disappearing Istanbul of the past century – the melancholy of the modern-day shopping mall is something very different to the melancholy described here.
December 12, 2012