Snow (Pamuk novel)

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First edition (Turkish)
AuthorOrhan Pamuk
Original titleKar
TranslatorMaureen Freely
Publication date
Published in English
2004, Faber and Faber
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages426 pp.
ISBN0-375-70686-0 (United States ed.)

Snow (Turkish: Kar) is a novel by Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk. Published in Turkish in 2002, it was translated into English by Maureen Freely and published in 2004. The story encapsulates many of the political and cultural tensions of modern Turkey, including a real suicide epidemic among teenage girls, which took place in the city of Batman[1][2].

Plot summary[edit]

Ka is a poet, who returns to Turkey after 12 years of political exile in Germany. Ka reunites with a woman named İpek, whom he once had feelings for, whose father runs the hotel he is staying in. In a café, Ka and Ipek witness the shooting of the local Director of the Institute of Education by a Muslim extremist from out of town.

Ka visits Muhtar, who tells him about his experience of finding Islam. The police pick up Ka and Muhtar as part of their investigation of the Director's murder. Ka is questioned and Muhtar is beaten.

Though he has suffered from writer's block for a number of years, Ka feels inspired and composes a poem called "Snow", which describes a mystic experience. Other poems follow.

Ka is impressed by Necip, a student at the religious high school. Growing tensions between secularists and Islamists explode during a televised event at the National Theater, during which Necip is killed. The police and military establish martial law, and Ka is taken in for questioning because he has been seen with Islamists.

Ka is taken to meet Sunay Zaim, an actor whose group put on the play at the National Theater and who is now orchestrating the round-ups and investigations of suspicious persons. The isolation of Kars, and Zaim's old friendship with the officer in charge of the local garrison, enabled him to become a revolutionary dictator in real life as well as on the stage.

Ka negotiates a deal with Sunay Zaim that will result in Blue's release, as long as Kadife agrees to play a role in Zaim's production of Thomas Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy and removes her head-scarf on live television during the show.

Ka's actions immediately after leaving the theater remain a mystery that is never completely untangled. Orhan is, however, able to establish that Ka was later taken by the military to the train station, where he was put on the first train scheduled to leave. Ka complied but sent soldiers to retrieve İpek for him. However, just as İpek said her farewells to her father, news arrived that Blue and Hande were shot. İpek was shattered and blamed Ka for leading the police to Blue's hideout.

In the end it is disclosed that a new group of Islamic militants was formed by younger followers of Blue who had been forced into exile in Germany and based themselves in Berlin, vowing to take revenge for the death of their admired leader. It is assumed that one of them assassinated Ka and took away the only extant copy of the poems he had written.

Awards and prizes[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bilefsky, Dan (2006-07-12). "'Virgin suicides' save Turks' 'honor' – Europe – International Herald Tribune". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-05-13.
  2. ^ Bilefsky, Dan (2006-07-16). "How to Avoid Honor Killing in Turkey? Honor Suicide". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-05-13.

External links[edit]