When I first read Snow, I was deeply conscious, page by page, of its enormously dense character. It was clear from the outset that this novel was much more than the account of a Westernized Turkish journalist's failed attempt to cover a suicide wave among young girls in the provincial Turkish city of Kars. Almost from the start, the multidimensional narrative about Turkish youth weaved together all sorts of strains of political, religious, and social conflicts in a drama about coming of age in a land whose culture is never far from that of Europe and vice versa. Here was an incredibly sensitive effort to probe the social dynamics of a culture that was scarcely understood in Europe (and scarcely understood at home).

Having finished the novel's four hundred and some pages, I was deeply impressed with what I had read but depressed by how little of what I...

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