Culture Vulture: reviews round-up

We assess the critics' verdict on Pamuk and Bolaño

Writing in the Financial Times, Ian Irvine describes Orhan Pamuk's new novel, The Museum of Innocence, as "a work concerning romantic love worthy to stand in the company of Lolita, Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina . . . As in life, the tragedy flows from the collision of romantic love with the conventions of society . . . It also presents a snapshot of a particular moment in Turkey's changing moral climate."

But for James Urquhart in the Independent, such close anatomy of an affair "has a stultifying effect on Pamuk's elegantly phrased, eloquently translated, but massive and slow-paced new novel". Of greater interest is the book's "underlying theme of the relative position of men and women in Turkey, and the conflict of modern, liberal lifestyles with a traditional society only thinly overlaid by Atatürk's secularism".

Peter Kemp in the Sunday Times agrees: "As a study of emotional and sexual attachment, the novel fails to grip. Where it does exert a hold is in its enthralment with Istanbul . . . it adds another engrossing dimension to [Pamuk's] continual fictional exploration, documentation and celebration of Turkishness."

Roberto Bolaño's Nazi Literature in the Americas is certainly ambitious, but is it a novel? For Peter Parker, writing in the Sunday Times, the answer is probably not: "Conceived as an encyclopedia of imaginary writers, it consists of 32 short biographies . . . all this adds up to a solidly imagined world, but the result is less a novel than an elaborate jeu d'esprit."

Lewis Jones of the Sunday Telegraph found it "among the oddest novels I have read . . . One's credulity may be strained by some of the more outlandish details . . . [but] one is hooked by the humorous and disquieting weirdness of the enterprise . . . If you like magic realism, you will enjoy Bolaño, who takes it to new levels of tricksiness."

To find out the NS verdict on these two books, pick up a copy of Thursday's magazine.

BBC
Show Hide image

SRSLY #45: Love, Nina, Internet Histories Week, The Secret in Their Eyes

This week on the pop culture podcast, we chat Nick Hornby’s adaptation of Nina Stibbe’s literary memoir, our histories on the internet, and an Oscar-winning 2009 Argentinian thriller.

This is SRSLY, the pop culture podcast from the New Statesman. Here, you can find links to all the things we talk about in the show as well as a bit more detail about who we are and where else you can find us online.

...or subscribe in iTunes. We’re also on StitcherRSS and SoundCloud – but if you use a podcast app that we’re not appearing in, let us know.

SRSLY is hosted by Caroline Crampton and Anna Leszkiewicz, the NS’s web editor and editorial assistant. We’re on Twitter as @c_crampton and @annaleszkie, where between us we post a heady mixture of Serious Journalism, excellent gifs and regularly ask questions J K Rowling needs to answer.

The Links

Love, Nina

The first episode on iPlayer.

An interview with Nina Stibbe about the book.

Internet Histories Week

The index of all the posts in the series.

Our conversation about MSN Messenger.

The Secret in Their Eyes

The trailer.

For next week

Anna is watching 30 Rock.

If you’d like to talk to us about the podcast or make a suggestion for something we should read or cover, you can email srslypod[at]gmail.com.

You can also find us on Twitter @srslypod, or send us your thoughts on tumblr here. If you like the podcast, we’d love you to leave a review on iTunes - this helps other people come across it.

We love reading out your emails. If you have thoughts you want to share on anything we’ve discussed, or questions you want to ask us, please email us on srslypod[at]gmail.com, or @ us on Twitter @srslypod, or get in touch via tumblr here. We also have Facebook now.

Our theme music is “Guatemala - Panama March” (by Heftone Banjo Orchestra), licensed under Creative Commons. 

See you next week!

PS If you missed #44, check it out here.