Never before published in English, Orhan Pamukâ€™s second novel is the story of a Turkish family gathering in the shadow of the impending military coup of 1980. In an old mansion in Cennethisar, a former fishing village near Istanbul, a widow, Fatma, awaits the annual summer visit of her grandchildren. She has lived in the village for decades, ever since her husband, an idealistic young doctor, ran afoul of the sultanâ€™s grand vizier and arrived to serve the poor fishermen. Now mostly bedridden, she is attended by her constant servant Recep, a dwarfâ€”and the doctorâ€™s illegitimate son. Despite mutual dependency, there is no love lost between mistress and servant, who have very different recollectionsâ€”and grievancesâ€”from the early years, before Cennethisar grew into a high-class resort surrounding the family house, now in shambles. Though eagerly anticipated, Fatmaâ€™s grandchildren bring little consolation. The eldest, Faruk, a dissipated historian, wallows in alcohol as he laments his inability to tell the story of the past from the kaleidoscopic pieces he finds in the local archive; his sensitive leftist sister, NilgĂĽn, has yet to discover the real-life consequences of highminded politics; and Metin, a high school nerd, tries to keep up with the lifestyle of his spoiled society schoolmates while he fantasizes about going to Americaâ€”an unaffordable dream unless he can persuade his grandmother to tear down her house. But it is Recepâ€™s nephew Hasan, a high school dropout, lately fallen in with right-wing nationalists, who will draw the visiting family into the growing political cataclysm issuing from Turkeyâ€™s tumultuous century-long struggle for modernity. By turns deeply moving, hilarious, and terrifying, Silent House pulses with the special energy of a great writerâ€™s early work even as it offers beguiling evidence of the mature genius for which Orhan Pamuk would later be celebrated the world over.
Literature & Fiction, Genre Fiction, Family Saga,