10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World
An intensely powerful new novel from the best-selling author of The Bastard of Istanbul and Honour.
'In the first minute following her death, Leila's consciousness began to ebb, slowly and steadily, like a tide receding from the shore. Her brain cells, having run out of blood, were now completely deprived of oxygen. But they did not shut down. Not right away...'
For Leila, each minute after her death brings a sensuous memory: the taste of spiced goat stew, sacrificed by her father to celebrate the long-awaited birth of a son; the sight of bubbling vats of lemon and sugar which the women use to wax their legs while the men attend mosque; the scent of cardamom coffee that Leila shares with a handsome student in the brothel where she works. Each memory, too, recalls the friends she made at each key moment in her life - friends who are now desperately trying to find her. . .
Shafak is the most exciting Turkish novelist to reach western readers in years.
A vivid carnival of life and death, cruelty and kindness, love, politics and deep humanity.
Simply magnificent, a truly captivating work of immense power and beauty, on the essence of life and its end.
Haunting, moving, beautifully written - and based by an extraordinary cast of characters who capture the diversity of modern Turkey. A masterpiece.
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 Full Review
There is so much beauty in this book: the value of the “chosen family” to marginalised individuals; Istanbul itself, that “liquid city”; the grace of a Muslim father who would never strike his daughter, however much he feared her choices. And there’s wisdom too, courtesy of Leila’s fabulous trans friend Nalan: “No one should try to philosophise on the nature of humanity until they have worked in a public toilet for a couple of weeks.” Thanks to Shafak, the voices of women like Nalan and Leila will no longer be silenced.
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.Simon Schama
One of the best writers in the world todayHanif Kureishi
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.Colum McCann
Shafak's writing is lush, evocative and compassionate.Mail on Sunday
Imaginative and admirably tight, a novel that paints a memorable and nuanced picture of life on the fringes of Turkish society.Sunday Times
Critics have hailed the book as a haunting masterpiece.Irish Mail on Sunday
Thanks to Shafak, the voices of women ... will no longer be silenced.The Times
The mad, exhilarating final section ... is a testament to Shafak's brilliance as a storyteller.Guardian