What is Storytelling and What Makes a Good Storyteller?: My Name is Red

20 Jun

MyNameisRed

There’s something so refreshing about perspective. It nods to the juxtaposition between one’s heart and mind: both the reader’s and the writer’s. This is one of the many reason why I find My Name is Red so beautifully fascinating – especially since in its original form it was not written in English.

My Name Is Red is a 1998 Turkish novel by Orhan Pamuk which was translated into English in 2001. You can borrow My Name is Red from BCCLS libraries in English or Korean translations.  It is also available as an unabridged audiobook on CD.  You can check it out as an ebook or a digital audiobook from eBCCLS.

Whilst the “main” layer of Pamuk’s novel leans toward a genre of mystery, it also seamlessly blends romance and philosophical puzzles, causing one to think twice about the true narration within each chapter. The main characters in the novel are miniaturists in the Ottoman Empire, one of whom is murdered in the first chapter. In order to figure out whom is the killer, each chapter of the novel has a different narrator, giving way a different perspective and truth that gets you closer to finding the murderer. Since each chapter leads the way to a deeper and more detailed truth, there are thematic and chronological connections between chapters and because of this, unexpected voices are used. It is these chapters told by different voices, character’s, and “things” that nod to such a question that goes deeper than mind and heart: “what is a storyteller?” We are immediately thrown into a new wave of storytelling when the table of contents reveals each narrator within this novel starting from the corpse of the murdered, to a coin, to then Satan, and curiously even the color red.

The figure of the storyteller and the art of storytelling in My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk opens up new ground to the reality that is a storyteller – which also sparks this question “can a color tell a story?” Allowing you to look at things through a more colorful light, it both challenges and excites the reader to experiment with the connection one would have with the narrator.

The book plays with this idea of voice, but every voice is invented. Referencing the title, we are introduced to Red as an actual chapter and narrator in the book as it brags “The truth is I can be found everywhere”. Suggesting a small truth in this story within a story within a story, as this color can be seen everywhere. It is this impossible voice that sparked quite a kindred reaction within me. Not only is red my favorite color, it also gave me this glimpse into the child’s wonder we are initially born with. A creativity that has no bounds – an impossible voice.

Even the thought of being narrated by a color and being introduced as “My Name Is Red” is mind boggling and makes me giggle from the pure genius of the writer. Why can’t colors be storytellers? Its hues are found everywhere and probably know more about what is the truth than any living organism.

So, even though the mystery is solved in the end, it’s the colorful words and creative ways of storytelling that made this one of the most memorable books I have ever read. I am personally not a huge fan of mystery novels, but this particular one is deserving of a chance even for nonmystery fans. The way it was written and how each chapter is broken down, beautifully expands your mind and allows you to think twice about your own opinions.

If you enjoy My Name is Red you can check out several of Pamuk’s other works from the Hoboken Public Library including The Red-Haired Woman, Silent House, and The Museum of Innocence.

Written By:
Sherissa Hernandez
Adult Programming Assistant

Familial Magic: A Secret History of Witches, Daughters of the Storm, and The Rules of Magic

13 Jun

All families have drama, but these three terrific novels prove that families of witches really know how to brew up some trouble.  Stop in to the Hoboken Public Library today and borrow them for a spell!

A Secret History of Witches
by Louise Morgan
SecretHistoryofWitches
Each section in the novel, A Secret History of Witches, focuses on a different witch in a long lineage starting in 1821 and going forward in time to 1937.  Although the women are witches, to me there is less a focus on the supernatural than on the relationship between mothers and daughters as well as the ways in which women who have attempted to wield power have been discriminated against and threatened through the ages.  This novel will appeal to those who enjoy historical fiction generally and not just fans of fantasy.  Sometimes the characters can lack distinction in multigenerational sagas, but I found in this work each of the women was unique in her motivations and her relationship with her supernatural talents.  Although I enjoyed seeing the varied histories of the Orchiere family, I enjoyed the last section focusing on Veronica and her efforts during the War to be my favorite.  Louisa Morgan is the pseudonym of Louise Marley who has also written historical fiction under the name Cate Campbell as well as fantasy works under the name Toby Bishop.

Daughters of the Storm
by Kim Wilkins
DaughtersoftheStormjpg
In Daughters of the Storm, a novel infused with magic, the focus is not on mother/daughter relationships but on the relationship between 5 very different sisters.  Bluebell is a fierce warrior, Ash is just learning her full magical abilities, Ivy is vain and selfish, Ivy’s twin Willow is a religious zealot of a new religion, and Rose is carrying on a secret affair after being forced into an arranged marriage with a man she doesn’t love.  They must work together to save their ill father, a king, who has been cursed by a powerful spell.  Their step brother wants to stop them and have the kingdom for himself.  If you are a fan of Game of Thrones check out this fantasy saga which also has political maneuvering and familial drama a plenty.  This is the first in a new series.  The next book in the series Sisters of the Fire is scheduled to be published in the USA in January 2019 and is set 4 years after the events in Daughters of the Storm.  Wilkins is one of my favorite author’s and you can read more about her other novels in a previous blog post.

The Rules of Magic
Alice Hoffman
RulesofMagic
Over a decade after Hoffman’s bestselling novel Practical Magic about two sister witches, comes the prequel, The Rules of Magic, which focuses on an earlier generation of the Owens family.  If you liked the quirky aunts, Jet and Franny, from the original novel then you will enjoy getting to see them in their youth at the beginning of the 60’s when youth rebellion is raging and they must try to escape their family curse along with their brother Vincent.  All three learn that love is impossible to hide from.  Although it is hard to top the magic of her earlier work, I still enjoyed the novel.  I relished the plot of the previous work more, but I found this work to be more mature in its characterization; Jet, Franny, and Vincent seemed more fully developed.  Besides print, you can also borrow an ebook or digital audiobook version of the novel from eLibraryNJ or eBCCLS.  You can also read my previous post about some of Hoffman’s other novels.

Written by
Aimee Harris
Head of Reference

%d bloggers like this: