May 27, 2012

A Spot of Romance


THE project has eaten up all his Nobel prize money and he says he could have written half a novel in the time it has taken to finish it. But Turkey’s laureate, Orhan Pamuk, finally has his Museum of Innocence, the wellspring of his bestselling 2008 tale of the same name, about the doomed Istanbul lovers, Füsun and Kemal.

Since early May a steady stream of visitors have been making their way down a booklined street in central Istanbul, past a hammam, a Turkish bath that pretends to date back to medieval times, past two cats gorging themselves like pashas off a low table on the pavement, to 24 Çukurcuma St.

The museum is set in an old Istanbul townhouse, painted in a discreet but very distinctive red—not plum or cerise, but something in between. Small groups of book-loving northern Europeans and well-dressed locals cluster around the teller’s window, examining the colourful printed tickets he hands them. Only when they read the sign above his head, urging visitors to switch off mobile phones and “use a soft conversational tone”, do they realise that the place they are about to enter is not so much a museum as a story den, a piece of performance art.

Read more on the Economist: A Spot of Romance

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