My Name Is Red
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At once a fiendishly devious mystery, a beguiling love story, and a brilliant symposium on the power of art, My Name Is Red is a transporting tale set amid the splendor and religious intrigue of sixteenth-century Istanbul, from one of the most prominent contemporary Turkish writers.
The Sultan has commissioned a cadre of the most acclaimed artists in the land to create a great book celebrating the glories of his realm. 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. The ruling elite therefore mustn’t know the full scope or nature of the project, and panic erupts when one of the chosen miniaturists disappears. The only clue to the mystery–or crime? –lies in the half-finished illuminations themselves. Part fantasy and part philosophical puzzle, My Name is Red is a kaleidoscopic journey to the intersection of art, religion, love, sex and power.
Translated from the Turkish by Erda M Göknar
apparent that two hundred years ago when the Mongols retreated and the reign of Tamerlane and his descendants began, one of the old masters in Herat drew an exquisite horse whose nostrils were indeed cut open—influenced either by a Mongol horse that he’d seen or by another miniaturist who’d made a Mongol horse with clipped nostrils. No one knows for certain on which page in which book and for which shah it was made. But I’m sure that the book and picture were greatly admired and praised—who
the bottoms of pages, he lovingly took up a mirror and placed it before the page so I could see the work as if for the first time. Then pressing his cheek to mine, he so lovingly identified the mistakes that magically appeared in the mirror image of the picture that I never forgot either the love or the ritual. The morning after a night spent weeping in my bed, my pride violated because he chastised me with a ruler before everyone, he came and kissed my arms so tenderly that I passionately knew
would he be willing to live here with us in this house?” I fell silent. We both knew, of course, that my father would never respect a son-in-law willing to live here together with us, and would gradually demean and stifle him. And as Father’s underhanded and expert belittling of the man who’d moved in with his bride’s family proceeded I would soon want to be that wife no more. “Without a father’s approval, in your situation, you know that getting married is practically impossible, don’t you? I
Are our painting techniques traitorous and an affront to our religion? And have you finished that last large painting?” I stood in the middle of the snowy street as evening fell and gazed down the dark road which had been abandoned along with me to jinns, fairies, brigands, thieves, to the grief of fathers and children returning home and to the sorrow of snow-covered trees. At the end of the street, inside Enishte Effendi’s grandiose two-story house, beneath the roof, which I can now see through
our marriage ceremony—which will be performed tonight, God willing. But I suppose I shouldn’t further confuse you, since you are already even more confused than I.” “You aren’t confused at all,” said Black. “Perhaps, but only because these aren’t my own ideas, I learned them from my father over the years.” I said this so he wouldn’t dismiss what I said, assuming that these plans had sprung from my feminine mind. Next, Black said what I’d heard from every man who wasn’t afraid to admit he found