--"If we touched it with the tip of a finger,
it would feel like something between iron and copper.
If we took it into our palm, it would burn.
If we tasted it, it would be full-bodied, like salted meat.
If we took it between our lips, it would fill our mouths.
If we smelled it, it´s have the scent of a horse.
If it were a flower, it would smell like a daisy, not a red rose"
At a time when the Ottomans' confidence in unstoppable empire had begun to be shaken by the power of the West, the miniaturists get involved in a secrecy of terror and shame: terror of being branded for heresy by the powerful Muslim clergy. Shame, because they are imbued with the tradition they are violating, even as they both long and dread to violate it.* The influence of Infidel art, characteristic of the Renaissance, is already being felt, especially trough Frankish artists and their man-centered vision.
Black Effendi is commissioned by his uncle, Enishte Effendi, to write the contents of the secret book Elegant Effendi had left unfinished. As a boy, Black had lived in his uncle's house and fallen in love with Shekure, his cousin. This interrupted love story is resumed after twelve years of Black’s absence and Shekure´s failed marriage with a handsome army officer (presumably now dead at the hands of the Persians). In this context, Black enters an hallucinating double chase: for the love of his life and for his uncle´s dark murderer.
I strongly recommend "My Name is Red" for anyone interested in Islamic history. From a privileged point of view, Pamuk draws a captivating foreign world, one in which art, power and religion intermingle in intriguing, risky ways.
* From here.