Ka and Snow  

Posted by Vee

Every once in a while, we are confronted with something so large, so magnificent, so ridiculous, that it changes our life forever. Every once in a while, we are shocked into silence (in some cases sexual excitement) by the sheer being of an object, a person, a sentence. It has happened many times to me. Now, that could be ironical. How can be life changed ‘forever’ many times. Get into habit of reading books and you will know. Thelast it happened was when I finished “The Kite Runner” and now it’s again knocking on my heaven’s door with Orhan Pamuk’s magnificent piece of work, “Snow”.

Every once in a while you might have felt that everything has come to a standstill, when you come across something so stupendous, so awe-inspiring that gives the phrase “It can’t get better than this” a whole new meaning. A writer is someone who spends years patiently trying to discover the second being inside him, and the world that makes him who he is. And Orhan is the living example of such writer of discovering that second being inside him.

And I say so based on the fact that the narrator is talking of himself but not as himself but an unnamed alias which could be a friend or anything, something like talking in third person. And as you progress you feel the author has taken a mean to talk of him.

It snows only once in our dreams:

Ka, forty-two years old poet after being exiled for twelve years in Germany returns to a small city Kars (Turkey). Having been raised lavishly in Istanbul Ka knows nothing of poverty and is intrigued to cover the recent events in this city apart from attending his mother’s funeral. At one hand, Kars had fallen into destitution given the political mayhem and on the other hand young Muslim girls were committing suicide.

Ka, as portrayed is one of those moralists who believe that the greatest happiness comes from never doing anything for the sake of personal happiness. But that was not so. The reason to come back was not as mentioned above. He secretly was hoping to find and get married to his old love, Ipek. As he landed, the snow was falling thick and fast than ever before he experienced twelve years before and he remembered a poem he had written long back – It snows only once in our dreams.

Love, Religion and Poetry
Ka meets Ipek. The snow made him lonelier than ever. Ipek was with him but it took some effort for them to strike up a conversation. The only thing they could discuss with ease in those uncomfortable silences was the ‘snow’. Ka told her how he was suffering from writer block and hasn’t written anything in long time. He wants to love her, aspiring of an inspiration from her to write.

Ka meets Muhtar (Ipek’s husband) and the sheikh and fears that the country will sooner than later see the ultimate nail in its coffin being prepared by the fundamentalists. They fear he is an atheist and wondered whether he is apologetic of that.

Ka meets Necip. Necip, who was member of Islamic group and who wanted to become a science fiction writer found a friend in Ka and discussed poetry, religion at length. Ka saw his youth in Necip.

Covered girls committed suicide

Ka also was intrigued about the recent increase in the number of Muslim girls committing suicide. The education institute banned girls from covering their head/hair with scarf and this was not well received by the fundamentalists and also by few girls themselves who willingly wanted to wear the scarves including Ipek’s sister Kadife. Those who did not agree to shedding the scarves were thrown out of school and purportedly committed suicide.

‘Suicide is a terrible sin in Islam’, Blue (Islamic extremist) conveyed this message to Ka while rationalizing the suicides to love affair and not to them being thrown out.

How beautiful the snow was falling?

Amidst all this happening, there was a snow everywhere to accompany Ka. He was given a heroic welcome upon his arrival but soon he found himself in police headquarters for being present at a scene of murder of the director of the educational institute and later catching up with fundamentalists. Yet, nothing bothered him. He was devoid of the silences inside him and felt noises piling up inside which made him write. Poems started coming to him. There was despair in him for girls yet a happiness to see the falling snow around and the ultimate melting of them. There was hatred for the fundamentalists who had brought this country to such poverty yet a love for Ipek and longing for her embrace.

The verdict

Orhan, Nobel Prize Winner, is a master story-teller and here he dishes out the facets of a wandering mind in form of Ka in a restrained manner. You feel sorry for Ka and his state. But he is not for himself. He has nothing but he has nothing to loose either. Ka is shown as an unapologetic person of his behavior and thoughts despite him at times giving in to his head rather than to heart. Nevertheless he has a pure soul who loves the small things around him. The sight of snow elates him and makes him think how short life is as soon that snow will melt. He believed snow can draw people closer by casting a veil over hatreds, grieves, and greed.

Orhan has etched out each and every character in a very emotional way in this 400 pages plus book. You feel getting attached to each of them no matter whether they are idol or criminal in the whole act. Every character has some reference to the snow and showing its connotation by paralleling it to their lives.

As you near end the lives of each of the characters take a leap from the usual and you get to know the real reason the girls were committing suicides. The story delves in aspect (while nearing end) of differentiating between the love and the agony of waiting for your lover, the pain and loneliness which Ka and Ipek endowed to each other, the joy of weeping together with your lover after a long-drawn-out reunion, and the silent gazes at the snow after zealous act of lovemaking that followed.

I warn those who might pick this that the story is somewhat multifaceted and the readability gets complex at times and you need to shun all the noises (both inside and outside ones) to understand the intricacies of this piece.

It was quite an exhaustive read. Anyways, pick it up if you like books of these kinds.

This entry was posted on Monday, August 11, 2008 and is filed under . You can leave a response and follow any responses to this entry through the Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom) .

12 Pointless but Viscous Comments.


This is amazing! :)
I had a similar feeling of amazement when I finished reading Satanic Verses and If on a Winter's Night... I think u should read them if u haven't... :)


Yups, I have read Satanic Verses and that was quite some time back. It was kinda eye-opener. No, I wasn't aware of 'If on a winter's night. I just googled, seems to be nice one. Thnx for recco.

Oxy ... For this one u know my opinion.. Just wanted to ask u, hv u read thousand splendid suns, if yes, did u like it as much as Kite Runner? (because surprisingly I didn't.. and kinda felt that another bk with similar war-torn Afghan background may become monotonous)


Had loved Kite but am not sure this book is my type or not....

Slow books are like slow poison for me :P

But yes lovely lovely review

@ Bouncing-Bubble,

Oh Yes, I quite know your take on 'Snow' and the only take which I actually got till now...:)

U bet girl, ATSS wasn't anything compared to TKR... And I hope he doesn't write his 3rd book with similar background.

@ Smita,

Who are you? Oh, S.. Ram Ram.. Haha

This book is def not ur type. I know it.


awesome .. loved the way u started this post...
would u believe it i haven't read the kite runner too :(
quite an long post , phew !!! :P
but very good one indeed :D

@ Oxy Boy :

Not a post for me, I dont read books at all. My reading activities are limited to newspapers, magazines and now blogs. So , I cant say its a good review, but it definitely is a gr8 write up :D

@ Arvind,

Thnx..:) and dude do pick up The Kite Runner even if u wanna miss this one. Seriously, do read TKR.

@ Vimmuuu Boy,

I guess I knew that after reading ur comments here n there. Never mind, Ky farak padta hai. U not into reading books n m not singing at all. hehe.

Thnx boy


nice review... i havent read the book of interest of this post. nor have i read kite runner... they'll be my next then...

@ Su,

Thank you, Do read them...:) U won't be disappointed I bet.


I read this book a few months back. It was very beautiful and thought provoking. I haven't read any more books by Orhan but I am looking forward to read My name is Red which is lying in my closet since ages.

@ Amit,

I started MNIR soon after I finished Snow but then wasn't able to complete it cuz of schedule. I wish to finish it soon and pick up Istanbul.

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