The Museum of Innocence, originally published as Masumiyet Muzesi in Turkish in 2008 is a story of an obsessive and doomed love. The hero of the novel Kemal is the son of one of the richest businessmen in Turkey, engaged to a suitable girl. But days before his marriage, he hopelessly falls in love with a young and not-so-well-to-do shop assistant Fusun, who is also his distant relative. Fusun is beautiful and has a charm very different from his upper-class fiancée, which Kemal finds difficult to resist. For Kemal, it does not take much time to lose Fusun but he becomes obsessed with Fusun and everything associated with Fusun. He ends up destroying his relations with the girl he was engaged with and also hope of any meaningful career. Slowly he becomes so engrossed with his obsession that he ends up losing Fusun, the human being and reduces her merely to the object of his obsession. Over a period of three decades from 1975, pathologically obsessed Kemal goes on collecting every little object related to Fusun or that era and builds a museum of innocence. Kemal gradually forgets that Fusun was the love of his life – however impossible and doomed it was – and tries to find solace in objectifying his undying love. Fusun is just a site, where Kemal empties his emotion. Had it not been Fusun – it seems - he would have perhaps found someone else, as he just needed a blood and flesh character to be obsessed with, to waste his life away in search of such pure romance, which cannot possibly exist in real life.
Apart from Kemal’s objectification of love, the story is also a commentary on women in Turkish society – how girls are stereotyped and their roles and attitude are straitjacketed. They carry the guilt of pre-marital sex or the stigma of lose morality when they participate in a beauty contest or act in movies. Overall the entire story unfolds in the backdrop of gradual opening up of Turkey (more in a social sense than economic) to European influence.