The Red-Haired Woman Read online
ALSO BY ORHAN PAMUK
A Strangeness in My Mind
The Naïve and the Sentimental Novelist
The Museum of Innocence
My Name Is Red
The New Life
The Black Book
The White Castle
THIS IS A BORZOI BOOK PUBLISHED BY ALFRED A. KNOPF AND ALFRED A. KNOPF CANADA
Copyright © 2017 by Orhan Pamuk
All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York, and in Canada by Alfred A. Knopf Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Limited, Toronto.
Originally published in Turkey as Kırmızı Saçlı Kadın by Yapı Kredi Yayınları, Istanbul, in 2016. Copyright © 2016 by Orhan Pamuk.
Knopf, Borzoi Books, and the colophon are registered trademarks of Penguin Random House LLC.
Knopf Canada and colophon are trademarks of Penguin Random House Canada Limited.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Pamuk, Orhan, [date]
[Kırmızı saçlı kadın. English]
The red-haired woman / Orhan Pamuk ; translated by Ekin Oklap.
Translation of: Kırmızı saçlı kadın.
Issued in print and electronic formats.
eBook ISBN 978-0-7352-7272-9
I. Oklap, Ekin, translator II. Title. III. Title: Kırmızı saçlı kadın. English
PL248.P34K5713 2017 | 894'.3533 | C2017-901157-X
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Pamuk, Orhan, [date] author. | Oklap, Ekin translator.
Title: The red-haired woman / Orhan Pamuk ; translated from the Turkish by Ekin Oklap.
Other titles: Kırmızı saçlı kadın. English
Description: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2017.
Identifiers: LCCN 2017013115 (print) | LCCN 2016057733 (ebook) | ISBN 9780451494436 (ebook) | ISBN 9780451494429 (hardcover)
Subjects: | GSAFD: Mystery fiction
Classification: LCC PL248.P34 (print) | LCC PL248.P34 K5713 2017 (ebook) | DDC 894/.3533—dc23
LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2017013115
Ebook ISBN 9780451494436
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Cover photo by PhotoAlto/Alemy
Cover design by Chip Kidd
Also by Orhan Pamuk
The Red-Haired Woman
A Note About the Author
Reading Group Guide
Oedipus, the murderer of his father, the husband of his mother, Oedipus, the interpreter of the riddle of the Sphinx! What does the mysterious triad of these deeds of destiny tell us? There is a primitive popular belief, especially in Persia, that a wise Magian can be born only of incest.
—NIETZSCHE, The Birth of Tragedy
OEDIPUS: Where would a trace of this old crime be found?
—SOPHOCLES, Oedipus the King
As a fatherless son, so a sonless father will be embraced by none.
• PART I •
I HAD WANTED TO BE A WRITER. But after the events I am about to describe, I studied engineering geology and became a building contractor. Even so, readers shouldn’t conclude from my telling the story now that it is over, that I’ve put it all behind me. The more I remember, the deeper I fall into it. Perhaps you, too, will follow, lured by the enigma of fathers and sons.
In 1984, we lived in a small apartment deep in Beşiktaş, near the nineteenth-century Ottoman Ihlamur Palace. My father had a little pharmacy called Hayat, meaning “Life.” Once a week, it stayed open all night, and my father took the late shift. On those evenings, I’d bring him his dinner. I liked to spend time there, breathing in the medicinal smells while my father, a tall, slim, handsome figure, had his meal by the cash register. Almost thirty years have passed, but even at forty-five I still love the smell of those old pharmacies lined with wooden drawers and cupboards.
The Life Pharmacy wasn’t particularly busy. My father would while away the nights with one of those small portable television sets so popular back then. Sometimes his leftist friends would stop by, and I would arrive to find them talking in low tones. They always changed the subject at the sight of me, remarking how I was just as handsome and charming as he was, asking what year was I in, whether I liked school, what I wanted to be when I grew up.
My father was obviously uncomfortable when I ran into his political friends, so I never stayed too long when they dropped by. At the first chance, I’d take his empty dinner box and walk back home under the plane trees and the pale streetlights. I learned never to tell my mother about seeing Father’s leftist friends at the shop. That would only get her angry at the lot of them and worried that my father might be getting into trouble and about to disappear once again.
But my parents’ quarrels were not all about politics. They used to go through long periods when they barely said a word to each other. Perhaps they didn’t love each other. I suspected that my father was attracted to other women, and that many other women were attracted to him. Sometimes my mother hinted openly at the existence of a mistress, so that even I understood. My parents’ squabbles were so upsetting that I willed myself not to remember or think about them.
It was an ordinary autumn evening the last time I brought my father his dinner at the pharmacy. I had just started high school. I found him watching the news on TV. While he ate at the counter, I served a customer who needed aspirin, and another who bought vitamin-C tablets and antibiotics. I put the money in the old-fashioned till, whose drawer shut with a pleasant tinkling sound. After he’d eaten, on the way out, I took one last glance back at my father; he smiled and waved at me, standing in the doorway.
He never came home the next morning. My mother told me when I got back from school that afternoon, her eyes still puffy from crying. Had my father been picked up at the