Orhan Pamuk's novel The Black Book (published as Kara Kitap in Turkey in 1990) is a bit of a mystery, a detective story, a history of Turkey, and a philosophical discussion of identity. This novel is not a summer read—one written to entertain and pass the time. The words that best describe Pamuck's work might be intriguing and intellectually stimulating.
The basic premise of the novel circles around the protagonist, Galip, who is a lawyer living in Istanbul. One day, Galip comes home from work to find that his wife, Ruya, has left him. Or at least Galip thinks Ruya has gone. She has left behind most of her personal possessions and a brief note, telling Galip that she will be in touch with him.
During the course of the next seven days, Galip will lie to his family (and, in part, to himself) about Ruya's lack of presence in his life. Ruya is sick in bed, Galip tells the family. He says this so convincingly that he almost believes it himself, except when he returns to his empty apartment. In order not to face this emptiness, Galip moves out. He takes over the apartment of Ruya's half-brother, Jelal.
From childhood, Galip has admired Jelal and has fantasized about being like him. Jelal is a famous newspaper columnist in Istanbul. Believing he can find clues in Jelal's apartment about his wife's disappearance, Galip not only moves into Jelal's place, he wears his clothes and then writes columns for the newspaper, using Jelal's name.
Galip never finds out where Ruya has gone, though he suspects that Ruya and Jelal are together. But in the course of Galip's attempts to find them, Jelal and Ruya are murdered. Readers are not told who killed them. Or maybe they are told through the clues that Pamuk has hidden. The author leaves it up to his readers to solve the mysteries of this fascinating novel.