Urban Frontiers and Veiled Faces. Orhan Pamuk’s Istanbul and Suketu Mehta’s Maximum City

  • Elvira Godono Università di Napoli Federico II
Keywords: Città, Pamuk, Mehta, Mumbai, Istanbul


Objectives and scope

Analysing postmodern city, in the third millennium, means to study the main important space of contemporary imagination and creation, focusing on literary works characterized by a continuous oscillation on the border between novel and essay, with the result to refuse canons of both genres. Adding to those elements the autobiographic matrix, which is fundamental in Suketu Mehta and Orhan Pamuk, the description of the city become the unique centre of the narrative space, aiming to explore not only the various urban borders, but also the limits which divide different artistic languages and forms.

Methods and approaches

If Mehta inscribes many intertextual citations in Maximum City (2004) and Pamuk narrates Istanbul not only with words but also through many old family photos (Istanbul, 2003), they both create a plurivocal narration, functional to explain secular historical contradictions and dialectical elements, as for as linguistic, cultural, religious and ethnic borders. These topics need an approach that, overcoming cultural and postcolonial studies, tries to unite theory of genres and thematic criticism with anthropology, mythology and ethnic studies.


If Pamuk and Mehta incessantly move from one space to another, they become lost as their readers, seeking to follow many different lives: women hidden by veils or guerrillas protected by helmets, thousands of bodies signed with concrete scars of invisible borders. Those limits have been deeply explained focusing, in particular, on the topic of memory, the only one parameter that, united to writing, appears to destroy the multiple borders of urban space.


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Author Biography

Elvira Godono, Università di Napoli Federico II

Dottore di Ricerca e Cultrice della Materia in Letteratura Comparata, Università di Napoli Federico II. Le sue ricerche sulla letteratura postmoderna mirano a decostruire l’eurocentrismo, incentrandosi sulla rappresentazione di spazi, miti, riti e simboli, coniugando critica tematica e teoria dei generi letterari. Tra le sue pubblicazioni La città nella letteratura postmoderna, Napoli, Liguori 2001; La casa dell’Altro. Mito rito e simbolo nelle letterature extraeuropee in lingua inglese Roma, Aracne 2009; “Postcolonial Motherism. A Brand New Woman in the African Novel”, in Postcolonial Web (Singapore University), diretta da George Landow, su http://www.postcolonialweb.org/africa/godona1.html September 2005, pp. 1–9.



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How to Cite
Godono, E. (2011). Urban Frontiers and Veiled Faces. Orhan Pamuk’s <i>Istanbul</i> and Suketu Mehta’s <i>Maximum City</i&gt;. Between, 1(1). https://doi.org/10.13125/2039-6597/125
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