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‘Snow’ by Orhan Pamuk with translator Maureen Freely

Turkish Literature in Translation Reading Group

September 24, 2020
2:00 - 3:30 pm (US central time)
Attendance open to all. Register to attend here.

Zoom, Middle Eastern Studies, The University of Texas at Austin

The Turkish Literature in Translation Reading Group aims to gather those who are interested in Turkish literature at UT together. This semester, due to COVID-19 circumstances, all of their discussions will be held virtually, through Zoom. The meetings are open to the entire UT community, as well as interested individuals outside UT.

Autumn 2020 will be devoted to three well-known Turkish novels: Orhan Pamuk’s Snow, Sevgi Soysal’s Noontime in Yenişehir and Kemal Varol’s Wûf. The group’s discussion of each novel will include a Q&A session with its English translator.

The first meeting is , Orhan Pamuk’s seventh novel Snow. The work revolves around a poet recently returned from exile, who sets out for the city of Kars in the far northeast of the country, intending to write on the rise of political Islam for Turkey’s leading secular newspaper. During the three-day blizzard that begins as he arrives, the city endures a compressed version of every misfortune that has visited the republic over three or more decades. To read the book today, almost two decades after its publication, is to see just how accurately it also charts what is yet to come.

In 2002, Maureen Freely reviewed the Turkish edition hot off the press for Cornucopia. Subscribers can read the full review in the magazine in the digital editon of Cornucopia No 26. You can both read and buy the book here on

For more on Kars, we strongly recommend Cornucopia 42, a special issue on Anatolia’s remote northeast, which includes a characteristically vivid article by Norman Stone: ‘Orhan Pamuk’s Snow – in Turkish, Kar – begins with a dramatically claustrophobic bus journey to the town in northeastern Turkey where the novel is set, Kars. It is a depressing novel, centred on the suicide of religiously cramped girls, and snow does not help, but the town’s name has nothing to do with it: it is very old, probably from a Georgian root meaning “gate”. Stili, in Kars the snow sometimes immobilises the place, and in the not-too-distant past the inhabitants were forced to live some way underground. There, ten years ago, they heated themselves with bricks of straw and animal dung, which give out a low calorific heat that keeps body and soul together.’

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