The Museum of Innocence, By Orhan Pamuk

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The Independent Culture

Stretching over 30 years, but seldom straying far from a few Istanbul quarters, Pamuk's most seductive novel yet is a tale of life-defining desire and devotion.

As he traces the love-affair of wealthy Kemal and shopgirl Füsun, and its lingering aftermath, Pamuk summons to new life his home city as it mourns the past and stumbles into the future.

He exhibits all that near-hallucinatory gift for ambience and atmosphere that places him among the great urban novelists. Again, he has Maureen Freely to thank for a sensitive translation.

In this epic, mesmeric invocation of passions and places, memories and mementos make up for all our losses. Like Kemal, every lover must learn to be "a shaman who can see the souls of things".