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'I read a book one day, and my whole life was changed.'
So begins The New Life, Orhan Pamuk's fabulous road novel about a young student who yearns for the life promised by a dangerously magical book. On his remarkable journey, he falls in love, abandons his studies, turns his back on home and family, and embarks on restless bus trips through the provinces, in pursuit of an elusive vision. This is a wondrous odyssey, laying bare the rage of an arid heartland, from the bestselling author of My Name is Red and Snow.
In coffee houses with black-and-white TV sets, on buses where passengers ride watching B-movies on flickering screens, in wrecks along the highway, in paranoid fictions with spies as punctual as watches, the magic of Pamuk's creation comes alive.
From a writer compared to Kafka, Nabakov, Calvino and García Márquez, The New Life documents the spiritual journey of a young student, who leaves his family behind in the name of love, life and literature.
With its fusion of literary elegance and incisive political commentary, Pamuk's previous novel, The Black Book, drew comparisons to the works of Salman Rushdie and Don DeLillo. Here, he confirms that talent, brilliantly chronicling his hapless hero's search for love, revenge and life beyond the postmodern novel. Narrator Osman, a university student in Istanbul, lays a spell on the reader with the opening words: "I read a book one day and my whole life was changed.'' Like a liberating enchantment, the book opens doors in his mind that allow him to glimpse both international conspiracy and the possibility of eternal love. The book mysteriously links him to the ethereally beautiful Janan, and together they embark upon a search for Mehmet, whom Osman unsuccessfully rivals for Janan's affections and who seems to have special access to the hidden worlds the book conjures up. Osman and Janan ride buses haphazardly across the Turkish landscape, and soon they are joined in their search by the eccentric Dr. Fine, whose pursuit is driven by a belief that the "new life" written in the book is a mortal threat to the vitality of the East. Combining a timely critique of the relationship between reading and cultural identity with a timeless and moving narrative of the search for happiness, Pamuk's novel has a headlong intensity, a mesmerizing prose style and the dreamlike quality of a vision.