A Strangeness in My Mind

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A Strangeness in My Mind
A Strangeness in My Mind.jpg
First edition (Turkish)
AuthorOrhan Pamuk
Original titleKafamda Bir Tuhaflık
TranslatorEkin Oklap
PublisherYapi Kredi Yayinlari
Publication date
Published in English
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages480 pp. (original Turkish)

A Strangeness in My Mind (Turkish: Kafamda Bir Tuhaflık) is a 2014 novel by Orhan Pamuk. It is the author's ninth novel. Knopf Doubleday published the English translation by Ekin Oklap in the U.S.,[1] while Faber & Faber published the English version in the UK.[2]

The story takes place in Istanbul, documenting the changes that the city underwent from 1969 to 2012. The main character is Mevlut, who originates from central Anatolia and arrives as a 12-year old boy; the course of the novel tracks his adolescence and adulthood.[3] Mevlut gets married in 1982, and finds a lack of success in making money.[4]

Elena Seymenliyska of The Daily Telegraph described the book as "a family saga that is as much an elegy to Istanbul as to its generations of adopted residents."[5] Publishers Weekly stated that "what really stands out is Pamuk's treatment of Istanbul's evolution into a noisy, corrupt, and modernized city."[1] Kirkus Reviews states that the author "celebrates the city’s vibrant traditional culture—and mourns its passing".[4]

The novel is almost 600 pages long. Dwight Garner of The New York Times wrote that the book has "the stretch of an epic but not the impact of one."[6]


  • Mevlut Karatas – Mevlut was born in Konya Province in 1957 and moves to Istanbul at age 12,[7] during the summer of 1969.[5] Early in the novel he attends Ataturk Boys' Secondary School,[3] and he sells yogurt and boza.[1] Kirkus Reviews describes him as a "nice guy" type person.[4] One character describes Mevlut as "a bit of a weirdo, but he's got a heart of gold."[6]
  • Rayiha – Mevlut ends up marrying Rayiha even though, in the course of writing love letters to her, he thought he was writing to her younger sister; it turns out the younger sister is named Samiha, but he chooses to marry her anyway and they have a happy relationship.[3]
  • Süleyman – Mevlut's cousin, he tricks him into writing letters to Rayha instead of Samiha, because Süleyman wants Samiha.[4]
  • Korkut – Another cousin of Mevlut. Kirkus Reviews describes him as an "odious right-wing" person who "treats his wife like a servant".[4]
  • Mustafa – Mevlut's father[5]


According to Garner the author was able to write "alert, humane, nonwonky prose" as a result of researching varied topics.[6]

Seymenliyska stated that the novel uses the same voice regardless of which of the characters are speaking. Sometimes characters speak directly to the reader.[5] Dwight Garner wrote that the narrators "contradict one another as if they were talking heads in an early Spike Lee movie."[6]

According to Garner, the 2015 English version has humor that "flows freely" and was "lucidly translated".[6]


Seymenliyska rated the story four of five stars.[5]

Garner stated that the author had done a good job with research, but while Garner "was not deeply, viscerally bored" with the novel he "mostly turned its pages with polite interest rather than real desire."[6]

Kirkus Reviews stated "Rich, complex, and pulsing with urban life: one of this gifted writer's best."[4] Kirkus named it as one of the "Best Fiction Books of 2015".[8]

The book was shortlisted for the 2017 International Dublin Literary Award.[9]


  1. ^ a b c "A Strangeness in My Mind" (Archive). Publishers Weekly. August 24, 2015. Retrieved on December 2, 2015.
  2. ^ "A Strangeness in My Mind." The Guardian Bookshop. Retrieved on December 5, 2015. See "Product details" to view the publisher.
  3. ^ a b c Liss, Barbara. "Istanbul is a central character in Orhan Pamuk's 'A Strangeness in My Mind'." Houston Chronicle. October 30, 2015. Retrieved on December 2, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "A STRANGENESS IN MY MIND" (Archive). Kirkus Reviews. Posted online: July 29, 2015. Review issue: September 1, 2015. Retrieved on December 2, 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d e Seymenliyska, Elena. "A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk, review: 'An elegy to Istanbul' " (Archive). The Daily Telegraph. October 19, 2015. Retrieved on December 2, 2015.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Garner, Dwight. "Review: Orhan Pamuk’s ‘A Strangeness in My Mind’" (Archive). The New York Times. October 21, 2015. Retrieved on December 2, 2015.
  7. ^ Manguel, Alberto. "A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk review – an encyclopedia of Istanbul" (Archive). The Guardian. Friday 2 October 2015. Retrieved on December 2, 2015.
  8. ^ "Best Fiction Books of 2015 Archived 2016-02-14 at the Wayback Machine" (Archive). Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved on December 2, 2015.
  9. ^ "The 2017 Shortlist". International Dublin Literary Award. 12 April 2017.

External links[edit]