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What is the best-known book set in Turkey?

See note on methodology

(Apologies - there was a glitch posting an earlier version of this just before I went out for a rather nice dinner.)

Two books by the same Nobel prize-winning author come out on top here. The first, published in 2002, is tagged "Turkey" more often than any other on both Goodreads and LibraryThing, and has the most readers on LT and the second most on GR. The second, published in 1998, is the second most frequently tagged "Turkey" on both systems, and for total readers it narrowly wins on GR and is only a little behind on LT. The two books are:

Snow/Kar, by Orhan Pamuk
My Name is Red/Benim Adım Kırmızı, by Orhan Pamuk

Now, with Turkey there is an unusual problem. Can we count books that are set in the territory of the country we now call Turkey, but are timed before there were any Turks living there? Because if so, there is a clear winner which crushes more recent Nobel laureates (and most other writers) into the dust of ancient battle. It is, of course:

The Iliad, by Homer

I'm also discounting the following novels on the grounds that less than half - sometimes a lot less than half - of the plot (though sometimes a significant section) is set in Turkey. Both Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides and The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova have more readers on both LT and GR, and GoodReads would add also Inferno, by Dan Brown, Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie, The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian and The Forty Rules of Love, by Elif Şafak, though all of them are a long way behind on LT. I am ready to be assured that the last of these is really largely set in Turkey, where it was apparently a mega-best-seller; it wasn't clear to me from online reviews if this is the case.

Otherwise the ancient writer wins for works set in what we now call Turkey, and the Nobel laureate dominates lists of books set in Turkey at a time when it was actually called Turkey.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 4th, 2015 11:52 pm (UTC)
Greenmantle - John Buchan
A lot of it has to do with the siege of Erzurum during WWI
Feb. 5th, 2015 08:22 am (UTC)
I've read Snow. Really liked the first third or so and then just got really bogged down and found that it dragged.

I'm not saying it wasn't a good book, just that it wasn't the right book for me.
Feb. 5th, 2015 08:36 am (UTC)
From memory, a good deal of The Acts of the Apostles is set in Turkey, though I'm not sure whether it's ever been sold separately.
Feb. 5th, 2015 02:11 pm (UTC)
And of course most of Book 2 of the Aeneid, large chunks of Herodotus' Histories, the majority of Xenophon's Anabasis ... the list goes on.
Feb. 5th, 2015 02:17 pm (UTC)
Two novels immediately occured to me - The Dervish House, which I grant you might not appear much on GoodReads or LibraryThing, and From Russia With Love, which I feel might.
Feb. 5th, 2015 02:22 pm (UTC)
But the Fleming probably falls foul of not being wholly in Turkey, which would also certainly apply to Stamboul Train (an oddity in Orient-Express novels, in that it's about the journey to Turkey from Europe, rather than the reverse) and probably Ambler's The Mask of Dimitrios -but what about Topkapi/The Light of Day?
Feb. 5th, 2015 04:39 pm (UTC)
Indeed - From Russia With Love is behind the two best-known Pamuk novels, but ahead of everything else bar The Iliad on both LT and GR. Not all that many readers have tagged it as "Turkey", which is why I missed it, but it clearly qualifies.

The Dervish House is not that far behind, but it is not up with the leaders.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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