My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk

“The beauty and mystery of this world only emerges through affection, attention, interest and compassion . . . open your eyes wide and actually see this world by attending to its colors, details and irony.”

3/5 stars.
Paperback, 508 pages.
Read from January 10, 2021 to January 18, 2021.

This book has been on my TBR list for years and while it was supposed to be a selection for the book club I’m in it was changed due to it being a bit too long for a monthly selection. I decided that I would still take the opportunity to read it as it had been on my list for so long.

My Name is Red is a unique piece that manages to interweave a murder-mystery plot with a love story, that takes place in a historical setting, that also pays tribute to the creation and development of Ottoman art and culture in the shadow of the West and influence. The result? A finely crafted piece of literature. The story revolves around a group of miniaturists, one of whom is murdered. One of the three remaining artists is responsible but you won’t find out who until the end. Miniaturists were artists that would work together to paint manuscripts and within the Ottoman empire, these works were often a collaboration with a head artist coming up with the plan and outline and passing off the remaining work to apprentices. These manuscripts, despite their beauty, were rarely signed by their creators which, differs greatly from the Western traditions of art. This is one of the main points of conflict in the book as some of the artists are under coming under this new Western influence. As the murder mystery unfolds, a love story also takes hold that counterbalances some of the violence in the story as well as the more factual artistic and historical references. Pamuk’s writing style and unique narrative approach are elegant, poetic, and complete with wonderful and memorable quotes that leave a lasting mark.

“Colour is the touch of the eye, music to the deaf, a word out of the darkness.”

My Name is Red is an outstanding piece of literature that brings awareness to the culture and art of the Ottoman’s in the 15th century. However, if this is not an area you’re familiar with, it can make the book harder to appreciate or understand. Don’t let that stop you from reading this book though as it is a meticulously written novel that has a beautiful read with an immensely captivating story. Books like this one, help to turn attention to places that produced phenomenal art that was generally overlooked within the Western canon.

“In actuality, we don’t look for smiles in pictures of bliss, but rather, for the happiness in life itself. Painters know this, but this is preciously what they cannot depict. That’s why they substitute the joy of seeing for the joy of life.”

My three-star rating has to do more with my own reading experience as I wish I had done a little bit of prior research just before picking up this book. I would recommend these steps for maximum enjoyment before reading this novel. Knowing what a miniaturist is a good place to start as well as getting a visual for what types of works these artists produced and how they were used and read. Thankfully, Wikipedia has a decent summary that won’t eat too much of your time. A highly recommended read for historical fiction lovers and anyone with an art appreciation.

Fangs by Sarah Andersen

This modern take on a classic romantic theme details another side to the author’s artistry and creative storytelling skills which step outside her previous style of comics.

4/5 stars.
ebook, 77 pages.
Read July 10, 2020.

If you spend any time on the internet then you’re likely already familiar with the author of this graphic novel. Sarah Andersen is the author of the infamous Sarah’s Scribbles, which are short relatable and funny comic strips involving a cartooned version of the author. Complete with the author’s trademark humour, Fangs is very different from the Scribble’s series both in its medium and content. The author takes a familiar concept but with a unique and intimate approach.

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Fangs is a love story between a vampire and a werewolf. The story starts with their first date and then follows their lives as their romance progresses. It’s a wonderfully simple concept and story with beautiful results. Each page is a scene in an of its self and presents a moment in time in this unique relationship. Some scenes are dark and reveal glimpses of the monsters that each of them can be but most scenes are cute, quirky, funny, romantic, and just downright delightful.

bd85b41054436cb8f17d8df0b154baabThis modern take on a classic romantic theme details another side to the author’s artistry and creative storytelling skills which step outside her previous style of comics. The story is immensely captivating and can speak to a wide range of readers with its content. You don’t need to like the supernatural genre to appreciate the story and the characters that the author succinctly builds in this short but engaging graphic novel. The story touches on the nuisances of love and building a long and committed relationship with both its ups and downs, as well as the added intrigue of the supernatural realm and drawing on our natural curiosity of this sort of romance. The novel’s presentation and engagement also makes you want to revisit the story again and again. I think my only wish with this story was that it was longer and that I wanted the story to continue further than it did.

If you want to read this book ASAP, as I did, you’re in luck. You can read it online completely for free off Tapas. By visiting this site you’re also supporting the author so it’s a win-win. If you loved the series as much as I did, you can also support the author by purchasing a hard copy of the book.