The Red-Haired Woman Read online


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  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.

  ISBN 978-0-7352-7270-5

  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​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

  Title Page




  Part I

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Part II

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Chapter 38

  Chapter 39

  Chapter 40

  Chapter 41

  Chapter 42

  Chapter 43

  Part III

  The Red-Haired Woman

  A Note About the Author

  Reading Group Guide

  to Aslı

  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.

  —FERDOWSI, Shahnameh

  • 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