My Name is Red

My Name is Red

Black is the handsome, though hapless and naïve, hero of the story. He is 36 years old at the time the novel is set. Before the novel begins, Black’s uncle Enishte had forced him to leave Istanbul because he fell in love with Enishte’s daughter Shekure. During Black’s twelve years in exile, his love for Shekure remains as strong as ever, and he returns to Istanbul at the beginning of the book determined to win her hand in marriage. Enishte charges Black with writing the story for the secret book, but Black struggles with writer’s block. When Enishte dies, Black and Shekure marry, but Shekure asks Black to find her father’s murderer and finish the book before they consummate their marriage. As a result, Black urgently searches for the murderer and ultimately succeeds in identifying him. After the main narrative ends, Black lives for 26 more years, but is never able to shake his melancholy disposition, even though he has achieved what he always wanted by marrying Shekure.

Black Quotes in My Name is Red

The My Name is Red quotes below are all either spoken by Black or refer to Black. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Storytelling, Identity, and Perspective Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of My Name is Red published in 2002.
Chapter 20 Quotes

He was frightened because he suddenly understood––and perhaps desired––that Islamic artistry perfected and securely established by the old masters of Herat, would meet its end on account of the appeal of portraiture.
"However, it was as if I too wanted to feel extraordinary different and unique," he said. As if prodded by the Devil, he felt himself strongly drawn to what he feared, "How should I say it? It is as if this were a sin of desire, like growing arrogant before God, like considering oneself of utmost importance, like situating oneself at the center of the world."

Related Characters: Black (speaker), Enishte
Page Number: 109
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 49 Quotes

This chamber was red, tinged with the color of the velvet cloth, carpets and kilims hanging on the walls. With due reverence, I considered how the accumulation of all this wealth was the consequence of wars waged, blood spilt and cities and treasuries plundered.
"Frightened?" asked the elderly dwarf, giving voice to my feelings. "Everybody is frightened on their first visit. At night the spirits of these objects whisper to each other."

Related Characters: Black (speaker), Jemzi Agha (speaker)
Page Number: 299
Explanation and Analysis:

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There was a time when Allah looked upon the world in all its uniqueness, and believing in the beauty of what he saw, bequeathed his creation to us, his servants. The duty of illustrators and of those who, loving art, gaze upon the world, is to remember the magnificence that Allah beheld and left to us. The greatest masters in each generation of painters, expending their lives and toiling until blind, strove with great effort and inspiration to attain and record the wondrous dream that Allah commanded us to see. Their work resembled Mankind recalling his own golden memories from the very beginning. Unfortunately, even the greatest masters, just like tired old men or great miniaturists gone blind from their labors, were only vaguely able to recollect random parts of that magnificent vision.

Related Characters: Black (speaker)
Page Number: 303
Explanation and Analysis:

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Black Character Timeline in My Name is Red

The timeline below shows where the character Black appears in My Name is Red. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2: I Am Called Black
Storytelling, Identity, and Perspective Theme Icon
Life, Death, and Consciousness Theme Icon
Love, Desire, and Greed Theme Icon
After 12 years away, Black is “called back” to Istanbul by death. Before he left, he’d fallen in love with... (full context)
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Before Black’s return, he received a letter from Enishte inviting him back to Istanbul in order to... (full context)
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Black watches the snow falling and sees a ship coming in. He listens to the sounds... (full context)
Chapter 5: I Am Your Beloved Uncle
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Enishte explains that he is Black’s uncle, but that other people also call him “uncle” (which is what “Enishte” means). When... (full context)
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Like all young men who visit Enishte’s house, Black fell in love with Shekure, Enishte’s daughter. Because Black refused to “bury” his love for... (full context)
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Enishte admits that he cannot presently tell Black about the meaning of the book’s pictures, because he doesn’t know himself. He tells Black... (full context)
Chapter 6: I Am Orhan
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...of Enishte’s six-year-old grandson Orhan. Enishte asks Orhan to kiss the hand of his uncle, Black, who greets him warmly. Enishte explains to Black that Orhan also has an older brother,... (full context)
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...woman owned by Enishte, and finds Shekure sitting there. She questions Orhan insistently, asking what Black and Enishte were doing, and Orhan imitates the two men in a mocking fashion. Shekure... (full context)
Chapter 7: I Am Called Black
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When Black sees Orhan’s face, he realizes that he has been remembering Shekure’s face wrongly. He thinks... (full context)
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Black looks at the objects in Enishte’s house and recalls the happy time in his youth... (full context)
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Black rides away on his horse and sees a large, “boisterous” Jewish woman dressed in pink.... (full context)
Chapter 8: I Am Esther
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...love with Shekure. Esther was surprised to learn it was not for Hasan, but for Black. Esther is ashamed to admit that she read the letter; in it, Shekure tells Black... (full context)
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...nothing to do with the words Shekure wrote. The way the letter is sent to Black via Esther, the way it is folded, the smell of the letter, and the enclosed... (full context)
Chapter 9: I, Shekure
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Shekure explains that she opened the window instinctively when Black rode past, and that his face “dazzled” her “like the sun.” Not only has Black... (full context)
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When Black gave her the picture, Shekure felt that she couldn’t love him like Shirin, and told... (full context)
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...adds that Elegant was the ugliest of the miniaturists, both in appearance and personality. After Black leaves, Shekure asks Enishte if Black gave him any trouble, and Enishte responds that he... (full context)
Chapter 11: I Am Called Black
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The snow falls all night, and Black reads Shekure’s letter over and over again. He dreams that he and Shekure are happily... (full context)
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Black can see in Master Osman’s half-blind eyes that he hates Enishte and is suspicious of... (full context)
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Master Osman asks a painter to give Black the “survey” of their workshop, which was originally a ritual that took place during the... (full context)
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Black asks who will take over the gilding now Elegant has gone, but Nuri only replies... (full context)
Chapter 12: I Am Called “Butterfly”
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Black arrives at Butterfly’s door; they embrace and Black tells Butterfly that he has come in... (full context)
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...and that he recently married “the most beautiful maiden in the neighborhood.” However, he tells Black that being too good a miniaturist will have a bad impact on one’s marriage, and... (full context)
Chapter 13: I Am Called “Stork”
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Next, Black arrives at Stork’s house. He mentions Master Osman’s question about time, and asks Stork for... (full context)
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Once the story is over, Black stares at the picture of the Sultan that Stork is working on. Stork feels uncomfortable... (full context)
Chapter 14: I Am Called “Olive”
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Olive is drawing “the darling faces of boys” when he hears Black’s knock at the door. Olive notes that when Black was away, Black had been jealous... (full context)
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...that “blindness is a realm of bliss from which the Devil and guilt are barred.” Black notes that some of the miniaturists in Tabriz take this reverential attitude toward blindness and... (full context)
Chapter 15: I Am Esther
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Esther observes that Black is clearly deeply in love, because when he speaks about Shekure he loses his self... (full context)
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Esther comments that Black has written well, but Hasan responds that he has stolen lines from another writer. Hasan... (full context)
Chapter 17: I Am Your Beloved Uncle
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...is angry about the secret book and resentful of having to imitate the European painters. Black puts a hand on his uncle’s shoulders, and Enishte admits that he knows this is... (full context)
Chapter 18: I Will Be Called a Murderer
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...be a murderer, and continue working with him alone. After the funeral, the murderer follows Black and Enishte down to the quay and gets in a boat behind them. He thinks... (full context)
Chapter 20: I Am Called Black
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Black suspects that Enishte knows about the letters he has exchanged with Shekure. Enishte sits him... (full context)
Chapter 21: I Am Your Beloved Uncle
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Enishte admits that he plans to ask Black to write the stories for the book. Enishte tells Black that, along with the three... (full context)
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Enishte shows Black all the illustrations except the last one, which he cannot finish. They discuss the possibility... (full context)
Chapter 22: I Am Called Black
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Black goes home and locks himself in his room, thinking about Shekure. Although she didn’t show... (full context)
Chapter 23: I Will Be Called a Murderer
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...illustration proves that Elegant’s prejudices were actually well-founded. The murderer passes Enishte’s house and sees Black leaving; he realizes that Black will complete the book and marry Shekure, and that Elegant... (full context)
Chapter 25: I Am Esther
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...night waiting for news from her. Esther gives Hasan Shekure’s note, in which she tells Black that he must finish the manuscript before he can hope to marry her. Hasan asks... (full context)
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In the letter, Black assures Shekure that he will complete the book, but that he is suffering a block... (full context)
Chapter 26: I, Shekure
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When Hayrire returns with Esther, Shekure is spying on Black and Enishte. She worries that Black’s love for her will not be “eternal,” and if... (full context)
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Shekure hears Black and Enishte discussing the European portrayal of facial expressions in the next room. She spies... (full context)
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...sends Shevket to the kitchen and asks Orhan to deliver the piece of paper to Black. Orhan hesitates, but eventually agrees. Later, she calls the two boys together and scold Shevket... (full context)
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...leaves, “like a ghost.” At the house of the Hanged Jew, she briefly thinks that Black will not come; however, shortly after, he arrives. He asks her to remove the veil... (full context)
Chapter 27: I Am Called Black
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Shekure yells at Black to stick his penis in the mouth of a prostitute and accuses him of losing... (full context)
Chapter 28: I Will Be Called a Murderer
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...he knows one of the miniaturists is a murderer, he will keep working only with Black. The murderer’s love for Enishte suddenly turns to hate. He picks up the Mongolian inkpot... (full context)
Chapter 29: I Am Your Beloved Uncle
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...forces Enishte to keep complimenting his work, and then asks why Enishte is working with Black and not him. Enishte explains that the book does not require “a miniaturist’s skill,” and... (full context)
Chapter 30: I, Shekure
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...hard as Shekure walks home from the House of the Hanged Jew. She believes that Black truly loves her, but she is dismayed by his haste to have sex. When she... (full context)
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...shrieks and insists on going to see the body. Shekure confesses that she was with Black at the time of the murder. She insists that they act as if everything is... (full context)
Chapter 32: I, Shekure
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In the morning, Shekure writes a note to Black telling him to meet her at the house of the Hanged Jew and she gives... (full context)
Chapter 33: I Am Called Black
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Shekure leaves, and Black feels both anxious and happy at the thought of their marriage. Black finds an imam... (full context)
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Rushing back to Enishte’s house, Black feels paranoid that other people will thwart his plan, guilty that he has not had... (full context)
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Black goes back to Enishte’s house, where a small crowd has gathered. Shekure emerges, wearing a... (full context)
Chapter 34: I, Shekure
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As the final guests leave, Shekure asks Orhan and Shevket to kiss Black’s hand. She tells them to respect Black and asks Black to be patient with them,... (full context)
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...that Enishte’s soul is at that moment struggling to leave his body, and that perhaps Black’s presence in the house is upsetting him. Shekure then hears that Black is speaking with... (full context)
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As Hasan continues to accuse Black of killing Enishte, Black concedes that Enishte was murdered, but suggests that it was Hasan... (full context)
Chapter 36: I Am Called Black
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After Shekure returns to the boys’ room, Black listens anxiously to the sounds of the house. He stares at the illustrations for the... (full context)
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Black then sets off to the palace to inform the Sultan. He goes to the door... (full context)
Chapter 38: It Is I, Master Oman
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...ordered that the book must be finished and the murderer found. He also explains that Black believes one of the master miniaturists is the murderer, yet Master Osman maintains that the... (full context)
Chapter 40: I Am Called Black
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Black admits that men like him who have melancholy natures do not experience real joy or... (full context)
Chapter 41: It is I, Master Osman
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...red in the illustrations. Osman claims that he knows which miniaturist completed which picture, but Black says he doubts that, given that they were not produced in the miniaturists’ usual styles. (full context)
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...style. The Commander’s men enter the room, carrying illustrations they have seized from the miniaturists. Black asks how the story ends, and Osman decides not to tell him that the miniaturist... (full context)
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Master Osman and Black look through the book and are able to attribute particular illustrations to Olive, Stork, and... (full context)
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Next Black and Osman consider Butterfly. Osman admits that he finds it unbelievable that a man could... (full context)
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Black and Osman move on to Stork, who Osman claims is “ambitious and conceited.” Osman admits... (full context)
Chapter 42: I Am Called Black
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Just when Master Osman and Black have finished poring over the illustrations for the book, one of the Commander’s men brandishes... (full context)
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...the illustration of the horses, and that they should forget the horses. Yet he and Black notice something unusual about the depiction of the horses’ nostrils. They continue to search through... (full context)
Chapter 48: I, Shekure
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...frightening dream about Enishte; she wakes up, leaves the boys in bed, and goes to Black’s room. She says Enishte told her in the dream that Black killed him and she... (full context)
Chapter 49: I Am Called Black
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Early the next morning, Black slips out and goes to the mosque to pray. He then goes to Master Osman’s... (full context)
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At times, Black grows exhausted from looking at all the paintings and has to take a break. Eventually,... (full context)
Chapter 51: It is I, Master Osman
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...he is glad that this has not happened yet. Pointing out a vivid red to Black, he claims that Allah only shows the true red in the blood of humanity. Throughout... (full context)
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Master Osman wonders if Black and Jemzi Agha have the same intense emotional reaction to the books as he does.... (full context)
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In the middle of the night, after Black has fallen asleep, Master Osman discovers the enormous Book of Kings. Osman feels distracted as... (full context)
Chapter 52: I Am Called Black
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Master Osman shows Black Bihzad’s needle, and tells him that miniaturists have a duty to try to see the... (full context)
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...these books until he is forced to leave by the Sultan and Head Treasurer; however, Black realizes that Osman is now going blind. He asks Osman who the murderer is, but... (full context)
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...He claims that all the miniaturists deserve to be tortured for what they have done. Black suspects that Osman may have been the one who planned the murders in order to... (full context)
Chapter 53: I Am Esther
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Black arrives at Esther’s house and she tells him she will meet him outside. She explains... (full context)
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Esther fears for her safety and regrets getting involved in Black’s business. She enters Hasan’s house and announces that Black is waiting outside, before giving Shekure... (full context)
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...fear about Hasan’s revenge. Shekure says that she will have to be taken out by Black’s men, but Esther knows that this will be violent. Suddenly, Esther has the idea that... (full context)
Chapter 55: I Am Called “Butterfly”
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...coffeehouse and looks around the chaos left behind. There are bodies all over the floor; Black joins him inside, and they notice that the Erzurumis killed the storyteller. They go out... (full context)
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...her silk nightgown at him. He conceals a sword inside the fabric and returns to Black. While Black’s back is turned, Butterfly pins him to the ground, pointing the sword at... (full context)
Chapter 56: I Am Called “Stork”
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Butterfly and Black arrive at Stork’s house in the middle of the night and ask who made the... (full context)
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Stork feels that Butterfly and Black came to his house “out of loneliness and desperation.” Stork doesn’t wish to insult Osman... (full context)
Chapter 57: I Am Called “Olive”
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...He embraces Butterfly, asking: “What do they want from us? Why are they killing us?” Black states that the murderer may perhaps be among them, and Olive says he has heard... (full context)
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Olive feels that Black’s desire to capture the murderer is not only rooted in his willingness to please Shekure... (full context)
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...a passage which implores God to “treat us with mercy.” He begins to cry, and Black comforts him, which makes him sob even harder. The miniaturists then sit down and warmly... (full context)
Chapter 58: I Will Be Called a Murderer
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...silence; then the other miniaturists pounce on the murderer and pin him to the ground. Black demands that the murderer tell him the location of the last picture, pressing a knife... (full context)
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Black takes out the needle and explains that 80 years ago the great master Bihzad used... (full context)
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Black asks if the murderer killed both Elegant and Enishte; the murderer evades the question, claiming... (full context)
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...demands to be let go so he can see the world one last time, and Black insists that he show them the last illustration. The murderer takes out the picture, yet—in... (full context)
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...them. Instead, he repeats Enishte’s words: “To God belongs the East and West,” to which Black responds: “But is East is east and West is west.” The murderer asks to kiss... (full context)
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...someone claiming to be Shevket’s uncle (Hasan). Hasan assumes that the murderer is one of Black’s men, and before the murderer can move, Hassan cuts the murderer’s head off. The murderer... (full context)
Chapter 59: I, Shekure
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Black has sent Shekure and the boys to a distant relative’s house to hide. In the... (full context)
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Black lives for 26 years before dropping dead next to the well one day. In the... (full context)
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...told this story to Orhan and given him the letters she exchanged with Hasan and Black, as well as the illustrations that remain from Enishte’s book. However, she warns the reader... (full context)