Sunday, 5 March 2017

The New Life by Orhan Pamuk

The New Life by Orhan Pamuk
First published in Turkish as Yeni Hayat in Turkey in 1994. English language translation by Guneli Gun published in 1998.

Featured in Cover Characteristics: Windows
I registered my copy of this book at BookCrossing

Where to buy this book:
Buy the book from
Buy the paperback from Speedyhen
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository
Buy the paperback from Waterstones

How I got this book:
Bought at a second-hand bookstall

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

'I read a book one day, and my whole life was changed.'
So begins The New Life, Orhan Pamuk's fabulous road novel about a young student who yearns for the life promised by a dangerously magical book. On his remarkable journey, he falls in love, abandons his studies, turns his back on home and family, and embarks on restless bus trips through the provinces, in pursuit of an elusive vision. This is a wondrous odyssey, laying bare the rage of an arid heartland, from the bestselling author of My Name is Red and Snow.
In coffee houses with black-and-white TV sets, on buses where passengers ride watching B-movies on flickering screens, in wrecks along the highway, in paranoid fictions with spies as punctual as watches, the magic of Pamuk's creation comes alive.
From a writer compared to Kafka, Nabakov, Calvino and Garcia Marquez, The New Life documents the spiritual journey of a young student, who leaves his family behind in the name of love, life and literature.

I was lucky enough to win a copy of Snow a couple of years ago and absolutely loved Orhan Pamuk's writing. His poetic descriptions are beautiful and I managed to completely lose myself in the book. So when I saw a copy of The New Life on a second-hand stall in Bristol, I snapped it up. I have transferred my review over from Stephanie Jane today to coincide with my WorldReads from Turkey post.

The New Life is a mix of books in one. There is the stunning writing in which to lose yourself, a road journey through a Turkey which is being lost even as our narrator discovers it, and a splash of mysticism to aid and baffle the reader in equal measure! The seemingly unending bus journeys are brilliantly portrayed, both their tedium and the mortal risk of boarding. I did not completely understand everything as I read it, although much later became clear with further chapters and, as with Snow, I need to learn more about Turkish culture in order to appreciate all the cultural references.

However this was definitely a full five-star read for me. The characters of Osman, Janan and Mehmet are driven and compulsive, and I felt for their quest to discover the truth behind the book they had read. I would so love to read 'that book' too! My favourite character was Doctor Fine and I certainly sympathised with and understood his battle to slow the oncoming tide of globalisation, or Westernisation as it was to him, and his sadness at it destroying the small lifestyle details that made his Turkey his country. The New Life was originally published twenty years ago and I guess the onslaught has increased since then there as it also has in many other countries. If nothing else, I took away from this book a timely and renewed desire to Buy Local and support my regional producers.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Orhan Pamuk / Contemporary fiction / Books from Turkey


  1. I love that this book is about a book. Reminds me of S. by JJ Abrams and Doug Dorst. :)

    1. I haven't read that one - will take a look :-)