Silent House Read online




  Translation copyright © 2012 by Orhan Pamuk

  All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and in Canada by Alfred A. Knopf Canada, a division of Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto. Simultaneously published in the United Kingdom by Faber and Faber Limited, London.

  Knopf, Borzoi Books, and the colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.

  Knopf Canada and colophon are trademarks.

  Originally published in Turkey as Sessiz Ev by Iletisim Yayinlari, Istanbul, in 1983. Copyright © 1983 by Orhan Pamuk.

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Pamuk, Orhan, [date]

  [Sessiz ev. English]

  Silent house / by Orhan Pamuk; [translated by Robert Finn].

  p. cm.

  “This is a Borzoi book.”

  1. Turkey—Fiction. I. Finn, Robert P. II. Title.

  PL248.P34S4713 2012

  894’.3533—dc22 2012005468

  Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication

  Pamuk, Orhan, [date]

  Silent house / Orhan Pamuk; translated by Robert Finn.

  Translation of: Sessiz ev.

  eISBN: 978-0-307-40267-7

  I. Finn, Robert P. II. Title.

  PL248.P34S4813 2012 894′.3533 C2012-902075-3

  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.

  Jacket photograph: © Pegaz/Alamy

  Jacket design by Chip Kidd




  Title Page


  1. Recep Goes to the Movies

  2. Grandmother Waits in Bed

  3. Hasan and Friends Take Up a Collection

  4. Faruk at the Wheel

  5. Metin Wastes No Time

  6. Recep Serves Breakfast

  7. Grandmother Offers Her Prayers

  8. Hasan Procrastinates

  9. Faruk Sees Stories in the Archives

  10. Metin Socializes

  11. Grandmother Takes Out the Silver Candy Bowl

  12. Hasan Is Vexed by Mathematics

  13. Recep Picks Up Some Milk and Some Other Things

  14. Faruk Remembers the Pleasure of Reading

  15. Metin Goes Along for the Ride and for Love

  16. Grandmother Listens to the Night

  17. Hasan Acquires Another Comb

  18. Faruk Needs to Find a Story

  19. Recep Serves the Quiet Dinner Table

  20. Hasan Feels the Pressure of Peers

  21. Metin Spins Out of Control

  22. Hasan Does His Duty

  23. Fatma Refuses to Live with Sin

  24. Faruk and Nilgün See Everything from Above

  25. Metin Pushes His Luck and His Car

  26. Hasan Tries to Return the Record and the Notebook

  27. Recep Takes Nilgün Back Home

  28. Faruk Watches a Belly Dancer

  29. Grandmother Receives Visitors in the Night

  30. Recep Tries to Take Care of Everyone

  31. Hasan Goes His Way

  32. Fatma Finds Consolation in Holding a Book

  About the Author

  Reading Group Guide

  Other Books by This Author

  A Note About the Translator


  Recep Goes to the Movies

  Dinner is nearly ready, Madam,” I said. “Please come to the table.”

  She said nothing, just stood there, planted on her cane. I went over, took her by the arm, and brought her to the table. She just muttered a little. I went down to the kitchen, got her tray, and put it in front of her. She looked at it but didn’t touch the food. I got out her napkin, stretched it out under her huge ears, and knotted it.

  “Well, what did you make tonight?” she said. “Let’s see what you put together.”

  “Baked eggplant,” I said. “You requested it yesterday, right?”

  She looked at me.

  I slid the plate in front of her. She pushed the food around with her fork, complaining to herself. After picking at it a little, she began to eat.

  “Madam, don’t forget your salad,” I said before going inside and sitting down to my own eggplant.

  A little later, she called out, “Salt. Recep, where’s the salt?” I went back out and saw it was right in front of her.

  “Here it is!”

  “Well, this is a new one,” she said. “Why do you go inside when I’m eating?”

  I didn’t answer.

  “They’re coming tomorrow, aren’t they?”

  “They’re coming, Madam, they’re coming,” I said. “Weren’t you going to put some salt on that?”

  “You mind your own business!” she said. “Are they coming?”

  “Tomorrow afternoon,” I said. “They called, you know.”

  “What else have you got?”

  I took the uneaten eggplant back, ladled a good portion of beans onto a fresh plate, and brought it out to her. When she’d lost interest in the beans and started stirring them around, I returned to the kitchen and sat down to resume my supper. A little later she called out again, this time for pepper, but I pretended not to hear her. When she cried Fruit! I went in and pushed the fruit bowl in front of her. Her thin, bony hand began to wander over the fruit like a drowsy spider. Finally it stopped.

  “All rotten! Where’d you find these? Lying on the ground under the trees?”

  “They’re not rotten, Madam,” I said. “They’re just ripe. These are the best peaches. I got them from the fruit seller. You know there are no peach trees around here anymore.”

  Pretending she hadn’t heard me she chose one of the peaches. I went inside and was just finishing my beans when she shouted, “Untie me! Recep, where are you? Let me out of this!”

  I ran in and as I undid her napkin I saw that she had left half the peach.

  “Let me at least give you some apricots, Madam. Otherwise you’ll wake me up in the middle of the night and tell me you’re hungry.”

  “I’ve never been so hungry that I’ve had to eat things that have fallen off the trees, thank you.”

  As she wiped her mouth she wrinkled her face, then pretended to pray for a while before getting up.

  “Take me upstairs!”

  She leaned on me and we made our way, stopping on the ninth step to catch our breath.

  “Have you made up their rooms?” she said, gasping.

  “I made them up.”

  “Okay, then let’s go,” she said, leaning on me all the more.

  We continued to the top step. “Eighteen, nineteen, thank God,” she said, and went into her room.

  “Let’s turn on your light,” I said. “I am going to be at the movies.”

  “The movies!” she said. “A grown man. Well, don’t stay out late.”

  I went down, finished my beans, and washed the dishes. I already had my tie on under my apron. So I had only to get my jacket, check for my wallet, and be gone.

  The wind blew cool from the sea, and it was pleasant. The leaves of the fig tree were rustling. I shut the garden gate and walked down toward the beach. Where our garden wall ended, the pavement and the new concrete houses began. They were on their balconies, in their little narrow gardens, watching, families listening to the news on TV, the women at their charcoal grills. They didn’t see me. Meat on the gril