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Title: Other Colors: Essays and a Story

Author: Orhan Pamuk

Note: I’ve read most of the essays on this book, but not every single one of them.

Other Colors is a collection of non-fiction pieces and a story by the Turkish Nobel laureate, Orhan Pamuk. The book is mainly composed of literature, politics, and personal essays, including an interview and Pamuk’s Nobel Lecture.

Other Colors is a wonderful book because it shows the reader an honest portrait of Pamuk. It includes many thoughtful pieces which Pamuk has written over the years. In the section Books and Reading, Pamuk reflects on great authors such as Camus, Dostoyevsky, Kafka and Victor Hugo. The good thing about Other Colors is that there is something in there for everyone and every mood, ranging from amusing reflections on everyday life and Pamuk’s childhood, to his observations and thoughts on Europe and Istanbul.

Pamuk’s essays, especially the ones on his childhood, family and on literature, were very inspiring for me. He writes deeply about the process of writing and reading, often discussing what thoughts are in the reader’s minds and literature shapes one’s identity.

Pamuk writes in “In Kars and Frankfurt”:

“…For it is by reading novels, stories and myths that we come to understand the ideas that govern the world in which we live; it is fiction that gives us access to the truths kept veiled by our families, our schools, and our society; it is the art of the novel that allows us to ask who we really are.”

Finally, I’d like to mention Pamuk’s Nobel Lecture, “My Father’s Suitcase”. It is one of my favorite pieces of writing by Pamuk. He writes about the pleasures of reading, and his father’s failed attempts to become a poet, and how, nevertheless, he was always encouraged by him. You can read the lecture or download it here.

The best way to know the true Pamuk is to read Other Colors, in addition to his stories, of course. Pamuk proves to be a great and sympathetic writer and literary person. His reflective essays are very true, delectable, but also sad at times.

Other Colors at Barnes and Noble

http://www.orhanpamuk.com/ and Pamuk at NobelPrize.org

Read my review of My Name is Red, also by Orhan Pamuk

NyTimes review of Other Colors

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The Slave Ship, by Marcus Rediker, is a very interesting human history of the ships that used to transport slaves from African regions to Europe. This book focuses on the ship in which slaves were transported, which people tend not to focus on. Slaves were treated with terror in the ship, and various forms of fear were used to scare them. They were tortured with different instruments and thrown aboard to hungry sharks. The thing that intrigued me the most in The Slave Ship is the slaves’ defiance when they are brought to the ship and throughout the journey. They would refuse to eat, which is when captains would have to force them to because they emaciated slaves would sell well. The book also captures the attention of the reader by showing how pathetically captains used to treat slaves: they were regarded as ‘cargo’ and the only interest of the captain would be to have them in good shape just so that he could sell them for a good price.  Another thing I learned from this book is that sailors were treated as savages, even worse than slaves were, because they weren’t going to be sold anyway, so it was not of the captain’s interest to make sure they were fed well. At times, sailors were even under the mercy of slaves. The first chapters of the book tell the story of a former Igbo slave and abolitionist, Olaudah Equiano, and several other people to give you detailed accounts of the slave trade. I thought the ending of the book was very touching and gave an excellent conclusion of the slave trade and the next step in this terrible system of the trade of humans.

Anybody could read this book. I assure you it is everything but boring: a very exciting and sad book. There are a lot of supporting documents and facts in the book, and it is written in a way that everybody will enjoy.

http://www.marcusrediker.com/

buy at amazon

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In the book Escape from Slavery, Francis Bok tells the story of his abduction from his Dinka village by militiamen and his 10-year enslavement. As a slave, he had to do hard labor, eat rotten food, and get frequently beaten by his owner, Giema Abdullah, and his children, in addition to receiving death threats from Giema Abdullah’s angry wife.

I find Escape from Slavery a deeply poignant and insightful look at modern slavery. It is not complicated nor is it too long. Francis Bok also talks about how he manages to escape through Cairo and Khartoum, Sudan after a couple of unsuccessful trials. Not only is Francis Bok a witness to modern slavery, but he is also a nation-wide speaker who travels all over the country to educate people and urge them to take action. He had accomplished great achievements, including meeting the United States President and bearing the torch at the 2002 Winter Olympics. A fascinating collection of pictures are available in the middle of the book.

I highly recommend this deeply captivating and insightful book.
This book is also great for educating middle – and –high school students.

buy at Amazon

Read a one-page summary about Francis Bok

Escape from Slavery lesson plan (highly recommended)

http://www.iabolish.org/

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