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10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World: SHORTLISTED FOR THE BOOKER PRIZE 2019 Kindle Edition
SHORTLISTED FOR THE BOOKER PRIZE 2019
'Expect vibrant, vivid and eye-opening descriptions of Middle Eastern life propelled by a tender storyline, all in Shafak's haunting, beautiful and considered prose' Vanity Fair
'Incredibly sensuous and poetic and evocative' Pandora Sykes
'Richly uplifting... truly beautiful writing' Nicola Sturgeon
'In the first minute following her death, Tequila Leila's consciousness began to ebb, slowly and steadily, like a tide receding from the shore...'
For Leila, each minute after her death recalls a sensuous memory: spiced goat stew, sacrificed by her father to celebrate the birth of a yearned-for son; bubbling vats of lemon and sugar to wax women's legs while men are at prayer; the cardamom coffee she shares with a handsome student in the brothel where she works. Each fading memory brings back the friends she made in her bittersweet life - friends who are now desperately trying to find her . . .
'Simply magnificent, a truly captivating work of immense power and beauty, on the essence of life and its end' Philippe Sands
'Elif Shafak brings into the written realm what so many others want to leave outside. Spend more than ten minutes and 38 seconds in this world of the estranged. Shafak makes a new home for us in words' Colum McCann
'Elif Shafak's extraordinary 10 Minutes, 38 Seconds in this Strange World is a work of brutal beauty and consummate tenderness' Simon Schama
'A rich, sensual novel... This is a novel that gives voice to the invisible, the untouchable, the abused and the damaged, weaving their painful songs into a thing of beauty.' Financial Times
'One of the best writers in the world today' Hanif Kureishi
'Haunting, moving, beautifully written. A masterpiece' Peter Frankopan
*Elif Shafak's latest novel The Island of Missing Trees is available now*
Haunting, moving, beautifully written -- Peter Frankopan
A rich, sensual novel... This is a novel that gives voice to the invisible, the untouchable, the abused and the damaged, weaving their painful songs into a thing of beauty. -- Francesca Segal ― Financial Times
One of the best writers in the world today -- Hanif Kureishi
Shafak is the most exciting Turkish novelist to reach western readers in years ― Irish Times
A terrific book. Poetic, poignant, trenchant -- Ian Rankin on 'Three Daughters of Eve'
A thoughtful, charming book that offers a connection to other worlds, perspectives and possibilities ― Sunday Times on 'Three Daughters of Eve'
A brave and passionate novel -- Paul Theroux on 'Bastard of Istanbul'
A vivid carnival of life and death, cruelty and kindness, love, politics and deep humanity. This is only possible in the hands of a consummate storyteller. Elif Shafak's lyrical command of language and narrative is breathtaking. Brilliant! -- Helena Kennedy
Elif Shafak brings into the written realm what so many others want to leave outside. Spend more than ten minutes and 38 seconds in this world of the estranged. Shafak makes a new home for us in words -- Colum McCann
Elif Shafak's extraordinary Ten Minutes, 38 Seconds in this Strange World is a work of brutal beauty and consummate tenderness, a wild shout of life from out of the lower depths of destitution and prostitution, indeed from beyond the grave itself. Every page throbs with unruly vitality, the sense- saturating colours scents and sounds of raw Istanbul, all registered with poetic sharpness. It's a book which for all its ordeals is a profoundly moving, at times lyrical, celebration of humanity's obstinate fight for life against the steepest of odds -- Simon Schama
A heartbreaking meditation on the ways in which social forces can destroy a life. Elif Shafak can be unsparing, lyrical, political, intimate... Several novels live in this one, and all of them are moving, generous and elegantly written -- Juan Gabriel Vasquez --This text refers to the paperback edition.
About the Author
- ASIN : B07N3663SF
- Publisher : Penguin; 1st edition (6 June 2019)
- Language : English
- File size : 5013 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 305 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: #36,031 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in India on 26 June 2020
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Born into 'not a normal family', Leila's childhood was as normal as a Turkish muslim girl. An over fanatic father, an incoherent mother and an eerie aunt full of secret. Everything was quite fine untill her body & mind gained maturity.
"Little did she yet understand that the end of childhood comes not when a child’s body changes with puberty, but when her mind is finally able to see her life through the eyes of an outsider."
Leila's interest towards western culture was growing and then a tragedy appeared. Not a sudden one, but a gradual one. Which finally lead Leila to left her conservative family & she ended up in Istanbul where generally all the soul with dreams use to end up.
Every seconds after her heart stopped was bringing a plethora of memories, linked with a particular taste or fragrance. Everything was in front of her eye, clear & coherent. The memory exposed the story how she ended up in a brothel, how she found her five friends, how she met D/Ali; how she dreamt & how her dreams drained out inchmeal.
The novel is absolutely muti dimensional. Firstly its a beautiful yet brutal poetry of dreams and memories. A heart broken story of the society's answer to a girl who dreamt to cross the border, to be something. It's not just Turkey, or the middle east, it's universal.
Leila's father was the representative of the fundamentalist world, where women have been ill treated everytime, in their house or out of their house. Sometime a brothel, a hawk eyed society or a house with forced marriage not really meant any difference.
Shafak also highlighted the sexual violence of Turkey. Unfortunately she has to face legal enquiry for this. That's shame for the literature & humanity too.
The second part of the novel revolved around Leila's five friend. A Somalian victim of trafficking, a transgender, a Lebanese dwarf, a Mesopotamian singer - all four women and a man from Van, Leila's childhood friend. They had one thing in common - somehow they are more or less unnatural & undesirable in the eyes of society. The novel portrayed a beautiful image of unconditional friendship. They all are strikingly different from each other, still they are most close to each other.
"They were more vulnerable on their own; together, they stronger."
The story was belong to the city Istanbul, as much as Leila. Elif Shafak showed her passion for the city through her magical writing. She imagined Istanbul as an “..illusion. A magician’s trick gone wrong.”
Sometime as a liquid city not yet solidified. She gave a feminine soul to Istanbul & ironically described how it have been humiliated by the phreneticness & violence.
The novel handled the conflict of religion & modernity masterfully. We can experience Zayneb122 & Nostalgia Nalan's peaceful coexistence, one highly bigot & other one quite infidel. Also the 'Cemetry of Companionless' hold a special meaning, indicating the pain of solitariness.
D/Ali - an attractive artist character with an anti-fascist mind & comrade spirit & off course the love interest of Leila. His appearance indicate that even those with worst of fortune can feel the taste of love sometime.
I am literally hypnotized by Elif Shafak's writting style. Her magical, mystic lyricism made this novel a magnum opus. The writing has a sedative effect, neonish glow & sensational appeal. Satisfying structure, intellectual storytelling & the depth of emotion made this novel other worldly beautiful.
Actually apart from the main novel, the dedication part & the Thanksgiving part are equally magical.
"To the women of Istanbul, and the city of Istanbul, which is, and has always been, a she-city"
"After all, boundaries of the mind mean nothing for women who continue to sing songs of freedom under the moonlight..."
You can sense it's brilliance just from these two lines.
We can get some unforgettable characters here, Leila's eerie aunt, Leila's best friend Nostalgia Nalan & more. Character building & their motives were decent enough. Though I find Sinan's character building little weird, starting as a promising boy but finishing like a pretentious man.
The Blue Betta fish summarize the focal theme of the novel. This indicated the singularity of life. In that magic realistic scene, the fish asked, "What took you so long?" - brings the concept of 'Maya' or 'Cosmic illusion' in front of the reader.
"Her mother had once told her that childhood was a big, blue wave that lifted you up, carried you forth and, just when you thought it would last forever, vanished from sight. You could neither run after it nor bring it back. But the wave, before it disappeared, left a gift behind – a conch shell on the shore. Inside the seashell were stored all the sounds of childhood."
Not only childhood, all the sounds of a whole life stored in the brain of a dead body, in the memories of the near ones, in the bustle of this strange world. Beside everything, I find this novel as a memorandum of memories & transition of soul finding relevance of life. A brutal yet beautiful brilliance!
Must Read, Full Five Star & infinity!
Through Leila, we get to know about her friends, who like her are living ‘unconventional’ lives. We hear their back stories - “one of the five…” and this is what becomes her true family in Istanbul, “a city where all the discontented and the dreamers eventually ended up”. What they do for her after her death is also unimaginable - and the last part looks like a scene from a movie, the pages building up the climax and you want to reach the end to see what exactly happens.
The book, though filled with incredible sadness, especially talking about the “cemetery of companionless”, also contains that little drop of hope, that little light which gets through a small hole in a tunnel of darkness. And this is what all the characters hold on to - in their otherwise dark, abusive, secretive lives.
The ending - “Free at last”…that’s how Leila leaves us and her friends makes sure that she is free in the end.
This story is about Leila, a diamond in the rough who is remembering incidents from her life as she lies dead. But this story is as much about her gang of five misfit friends. All their stories are heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. I couldn’t imagine how these two words could be used together in a sentence before I read this book.
There are hardly any huge surprises but the way the story unfolds is mesmerising. You get caught up in Leila’s memories as if you’re right there with her, reliving them. The writing is so cohesive that you flow through chapters without thinking. The only thing that could’ve made this book perfectly flawless was if the second part tied together a bit tighter. But it already had the colossal task of living up to the absolutely beautiful first part so it’s understandable that the narrative falters a bit there.
Top reviews from other countries
And the novel does that. Fight for the rights of women, celebration of diversity and defence of all sorts outcasts are hailed there, reflecting Elif Shafak’s career as a human rights activist. The story raises awareness of injustice, challenges stereotypes related to sex workers, LGBT people and other vulnerable groups and shows how society creates circumstances that force some people to take roles we detest.
The only problem is that in her endeavour, Shafak uses other stereotypes and in doing so reinforces them. Take, for example, representations of religion in the novel: Islam has some place in Shafak’s vision of cherished diversity: one of the main positive characters, Zaynab122, is a devote Muslim. Alas, Shafak allows other characters to share some interesting insights, thus showing them as thinking personalities, whereas Zaynab122, with her attempts to provide religious protection to her friends, appears as a good-natured and tolerant, but superstitious and rather primitive. Virtually all other references to Islam show it as practices and ideologies serving patriarchal hegemony, degrading human dignity and significantly contributing to the poor state wherein the main characters find themselves.
Nobody denies that religion is often used to justify patriarchy, unfair treatment and outcasting of various groups. But such selection of representations of Islam as found in the novel ignores diversity of Islamic thought and practices, growing body of Islamic feminisms and Muslims fighting for universally applicable human rights. Celebrating diversity and fighting for rights of women and many vulnerable groups are appreciated. But doing this by reinforcing negative stereotypes widely associated with Islam seen as inherently patriarchal and hostile to women and reason in the context of growing worldwide Islamophobia and the divided Turkish society does no good for women and any vulnerable group – Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
This section of the book is brilliant, there are scenes of Turkish life and customs, beautifully and vividly painted. We also meet Leila's five friends and there are brief sketches of their back story. These friends turn out to play a pivotal role later in the book and for me, this is where I started to lose a little patience.
They embark on a mission (not being more specific to avoid spoilers) but just felt credulity was stretched. However the last few pages, absolutely gorgeous so I can see why this plot line was introduced.
I would definitely recommend this book and I intend to read some other works by this author.