Magazine article New Internationalist

The Red-Haired Woman

Magazine article New Internationalist

The Red-Haired Woman

Article excerpt

The Red-Haired Woman by Orhan Pamuk, translated by Ekin Oklap (Faber & Faber, ISBN 9780571330294)

Despite its title, the focus of The Red-Haired Woman appears at first to be the dynamics of father-son relationships.

Teenager Cem, whose leftwing radical father has been absent for most of his childhood, goes to work for well-digger Master Mahmut. As they excavate down through the layers of unforgiving earth, they reflect on Western and Eastern mythology, from the Greek Oedipus to epic Persian poem the Shahnameh, and Cem finds himself both drawn to and fearful of his new father figure.

One evening he slips away to a Theatre of Morality play - a defining moment in his life. Subsequent events create a black stain on his soul that haunts him into adulthood.

As multi-layered as the earth being dug out of the well, the novel offers different interpretations of filial and paternal responsibility. …

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