** WARNING: IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THIS BOOK THERE ARE SPOILERS AHEAD **
As indicated in a previous post, I found Snow to be a gripping, atmospheric novel, loaded with meaning and important political, religious and artistic insights.
I loved that it introduced me to another world, one that was slightly disquieting and totally unfamiliar. I learnt so much about the gap between traditional Islam and Western secularism, I'm tempted to thrust a copy of this book into everyone's hands with the words, 'you must read this'.
So, what did you think of it? Did you love it, hate it or think it over-rated?
To get your creative juices flowing, I have listed some questions (with some help from the Reading Group Guide and the excellent Faber Book Club Guide) that you may wish to consider when discussing this book. However, there's no need to answer everything listed. Just pick and choose as you see fit, add your own and by all means respond to the comments left by others. This is supposed to be a stimulating and friendly chat between book lovers, so now it's over to you...
1. On a scale of one to five, with one being rubbish and five being excellent, how did you rate this book?
2. Did you like the characters in this book? Did you have a favourite one? Were they well drawn?
3. What did you think of the plot? The writing in general? Would you read anything by Orhan Pamuk again?
4. Snow is the dominant image in the novel. What does it symbolise? What does the snowflake come to mean to Ka?
5. Ka's coat is constantly mentioned in this book. What do you think it symbolises?
6. The narrator drops hints throughout the novel about future developments and tells his readers of Ka’s death far in advance of the event. What effect does this achieve? Who is the narrator?
7. Many of the novel’s protagonists are writers: the coup is staged by actors, Ka is a poet, his friend Muhtar is a poet who yearns to be published and Necip aspires to be a science fiction writer. What
does the novel have to say about art and politics?
8. Ka is described as a ‘political exile’ but the narrator says that he ‘had never been much of an activist’ (page 4). Why is he in exile? What kind of man is he and what has drawn him to Kars?
9. At least three different perspectives are given on the suicide girls. The deputy governor tells Ka, "What is certain is that these girls were driven to suicide because they were extremely unhappy. . . But if unhappiness were a genuine reason for suicide, half the women in Turkey would be killing themselves"(page 14); Ipek says, "The men give themselves to religion, and the women kill themselves" (page 35); and Kadife argues that women commit suicide to save their pride [page 112]. Does the novel provide an answer to the mystery of why women are killing themselves?
10. ‘If I were an author and Ka were a character in a book, I’d say “Snow reminds Ka of God!”’ (page 62). How does Ka’s attitude towards religious belief change? What brings about that change?
11. Everyone in Kars watches television constantly; they even use the television to watch the coup as it takes place just outside their doors. Given the deliberately theatrical nature of the coup, the uncertainty as to whether the soldiers' bullets are real, and Sunay's death onstage during the second performance, what does Pamuk suggest about the relationship between history and fiction, reality and illusion?
12. ‘If a big German newspaper gave each of you personally two lines of space, what would you say to the West?’ (page 280). What response does Turgut Bey’s question elicit? What does Europe symbolise for the novel’s main characters? How does the Europeanised Ka compare himself to the inhabitants of Kars? How do they wish to be perceived in the West?
13. The wearing of the headscarf symbolises the secular versus religious fundamentalism debate in Snow. The Director of Education says that ‘When a woman takes off her headscarf, she occupies a more comfortable place in society and gets more respect’ while his assassin counters with ‘Headscarves protect women from harassment, rape and degradation’ (page 46). Are there parallels to be drawn between it and the decision of the President Chirac’s administration to ban headscarves in French schools? Can you understand why a woman would want to wear a headscarf? Can you understand why Kadife would want to go onstage and bare her head in Sunay's play?
14. Has reading this novel changed your perspective on Islam or the West? If so, in what ways?