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Author: Orhan Pamuk
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The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk
“It was the happiest moment of my life, though I didn’t know it.”
It is a perfect Spring in 1975, Istanbul. Kemal, heir to one of the town’s wealthiest families, is about to become engaged to Sibel, from another aristocratic family, when he encounters Füsun, a beautiful shopgirl, and a distant relation.
As they break the taboo of virginity, a rift opens between Kemal and his lovingly described world of the westernized families of Istanbul with their opulent parties and clubs, society gossip, dining-room rituals, picnics, their mansions on the Bosphorus infused with the melancholy of decay.
For nine years Kemal will find excuses to visit the other Istanbul, a house in the impoverished backstreets that Füsun shares with her parents, enjoying the consolations of middle-class life at a dinner table in front of the television. His love for his distant relative will take him to the seedy film circles of Istanbul, cheap bars, sad hotels, a society of small men with big dreams and bitter failures.
It will make Kemal a compulsive collector of objects that chronicle his love story and his obsessive heart’s reactions: his anger and impatience, his remorse and humiliation, his miscalculated hopes of recovery, and his daydreams that transform his Istanbul into a city of signs and spectres of his beloved with whom he can only exchange meaning-laden glances, stolen kisses in cars, movie houses and park shadows.
All that will remain to him, certainly and eternally, is the museum he creates, a map of a society’s rituals and mores, and of one man’s broken heart.