A Strangeness in My Mind Read online


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  Being the Adventures and Dreams of Mevlut Karataş, a Seller of Boza, and of His Friends, and Also a Portrait of Life in Istanbul Between 1969 and 2012 from Many Different Points of View




  Copyright © 2015 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 Ltd., Toronto. Originally published in Turkey as Kafamda Bir Tuhaflik by Yapı Kredi Yayinlari, Istanbul, in 2013. Copyright © 2013 by Orhan Pamuk. This translation originally published in hardcover in Great Britain by Faber and Faber Ltd, London, in 2015.



  Knopf, Borzoi Books, and the colophon are registered trademarks of Penguin Random House LLC. Knopf Canada and colophon are registered trademarks of Penguin Random House Ltd.

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Pamuk, Orhan, [date] [Kafamda bir tuhaflik. English]

  A strangeness in my mind : being the adventures and dreams of Mevlut Karataş, a seller of boza, and of his friends, and also a portrait of life in Istanbul between 1969 and 2012 from many different points of view : a novel / Orhan Pamuk.—First edition. pages cm

  ISBN 978-0-307-70029-2 eBook ISBN 978-1-101-87583-4

  1. Street vendors—Turkey—Istanbul—Fiction. 2. Istanbul (Turkey)— Social life and customs—Fiction. 3. Istanbul (Turkey)—Social conditions— Fiction. I. Title.

  PL248.P34K3513 2015 894′.3533—dc23 2015006769

  Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication

  Pamuk, Orhan, [date] [Kafamda bir tuhaflik. English]

  A strangeness in my mind / Orhan Pamuk ; translated from the Turkish by Ekin Oklap.

  Translation of: Kafamda bir tuhaflik. Issued in print and electronic formats.

  ISBN 978-0-307-36126-4 eBook ISBN 978-0-307-36128-8

  1. Street vendors—Turkey—Istanbul—Fiction. 2. Istanbul (Turkey)—Social life and customs—Fiction. 3. Istanbul (Turkey)—Social conditions—Fiction. I. Oklap, Ekin, translator. II. Title. III. Title: Kafamda bir tuhaflik. English.

  PL248.P34K3513 2015 894.3533 C2015-903373-X

  eBook ISBN 9781101875834

  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.

  Photograph on this page by Ara Güler

  Cover art by Orhan Pamuk

  Cover design by Chip Kidd



  For Asl

  I had melancholy thoughts…

  a strangeness in my mind,

  A feeling that I was not for that hour,

  Nor for that place.

  —William Wordsworth, The Prelude

  The first man who, having fenced off a plot of land, thought of saying “This is mine” and found people simple enough to believe him was the real founder of civil society.

  — Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality Among Men

  The gulf between the private and public views of our countrymen is evidence of the power of the state.

  —Celâl Salik, Milliyet



  Also by Orhan Pamuk

  Title Page




  The Families of Brothers Hasan Aktaş and Mustafa Karataş, Yogurt and Boza Sellers


  Mevlut and Rayiha

  Elopement Is a Tricky Business


  Mevlut, Every Winter Evening for the Last Twenty-Five Years

  Leave the Boza Seller Alone


  1 Mevlut in the Village

  If This World Could Speak, What Would It Say?

  2 Home

  The Hills at the End of the City

  3 The Enterprising Individual Who Builds a House on Empty Land

  Oh, My Boy, Istanbul Is a Little Scary, Isn’t It?

  4 Mevlut Begins to Work as a Street Vendor

  It’s Not Your Job to Act Superior

  5 Atatürk Boys’ Secondary School

  A Good Education Removes the Barriers Between Rich and Poor

  6 Middle School and Politics

  There’s No School Tomorrow

  7 The Elyazar Cinema

  A Matter of Life and Death

  8 The Height of Duttepe Mosque

  People Actually Live There?

  9 Neriman

  What Makes the City a City

  10 The Consequences of Sticking Communist Posters on Mosques

  God Save the Turks

  11 The War Between Duttepe and Kültepe

  We Don’t Take Sides

  12 How to Marry a Girl from the Village

  My Daughter Is Not for Sale

  13 Mevlut’s Mustache

  The Owner of Unregistered Land

  14 Mevlut Falls in Love

  Only God Could Have Ordained This Chance Encounter

  15 Mevlut Leaves Home

  If You Saw Her on the Street Tomorrow, Would You Recognize Her?

  16 How to Write a Love Letter

  Your Eyes Are Like Ensorcelled Arrows

  17 Mevlut’s Army Days

  Do You Think You’re at Home?

  18 The Military Coup

  The Cemetery of the Industrial Quarter

  19 Mevlut and Rayiha

  Elopement Is a Tricky Business

  PART IV · JUNE 1982–MARCH 1994

  1 Mevlut and Rayiha Get Married

  Only Death Can Tear Us Apart

  2 Mevlut Sells Ice Cream

  The Happiest Days of His Life

  3 Mevlut and Rayiha’s Wedding

  Only Desperate Yogurt Sellers Bother with Boza

  4 Rice with Chickpeas

  Food Tastes Better When It’s Got Some Dirt in It

  5 Mevlut Becomes a Father

  Do Not Get Out of the Van

  6 Samiha Runs Away

  Blood Will Be Shed over This

  7 A Second Daughter

  It Was as If His Life Were Happening to Someone Else

  8 Capitalism and Tradition

  Mevlut’s Blissful Family Life

  9 The Ghaazi Quarter

  We’re Going to Hide in Here

  10 Getting Rid of City Dust

  My God, Where Is All This Filth Coming From?

  11 Girls Who Refuse to Meet Their Suitors

  We Were Just Passing By

  12 In Tarlabaşı

  The Happiest Man in the World

  13 Süleyman Stirs Up Trouble

  Isn’t That What Happened?

  14 Mevlut Finds a New Spot

  I’ll Go and Pick It Up First Thing Tomorrow Morning

  15 The Holy Guide

  I Am the Victim of a Grave Injustice

  16 The Binbom Café

  Let Them Know What You’re Worth

  17 The Café Employees’ Big Swindle