10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World
Elif Shafak   
Pages: 308      Published: 2019

The book: This story begins at the end with the death of a prostitute called Tequila Leila.  For 10 minutes and 38 seconds after Leila has taken her last breath, her brain continues to function and she recalls her life and what brought her to this ignominious end.

You might like it because: Shafak is a masterful storyteller. She has created a cast of very compelling characters. She brings Turkey, and Istanbul in particular, to life, exposing its dark underbelly. Despite the book beginning with the protagonist’s death, this is not a morbid read. Shafak balances tragedy and horror with empathy, love, and wit. Her beautiful prose is a joy to read.  I could not put this book down.

What did other people say?
“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

“For my part, I’ll say “10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World” is well deserving of honors. Shafak writes with vision, bravery and compassion. Her novel is a stunning portrait of a city, a society, a small community and a single soul.”
New York Times Book Review

Awards & Recognition:
Booker Prize 2019 Shortlist

How quickly will you get into the book?
Shafak grabs your attention before the end of the first page. I was instantly pulled into Leila’s life and had to keep on reading.

You might not like it because: The first half of the story is very dark and serious. The second half is at times comedic and this might not work for some readers who may have difficulty reconciling the two moods.

What might you read next?
The Guardian (U.K) asked Shafak, “Can you recommend books to help us through tough times – books about how to persevere under difficult circumstances?”
She suggested a number of books that you might like to read; here are two and what she said about them:

“Ta-Nehisi Coates’s first novel, The Water Dancer, is a remarkable story about inequality, slavery, memory, freedom and dignity. I found it important and universally relevant.”

“Robert Macfarlane’s Underland is a wonderful book, full of wisdom and hope. Beautifully written, it is a journey into the fascinating, but mostly unknown world underneath our feet. A lyrical exploration of time, nature, memory, literature and landscape, it took Macfarlane 10 years to complete, but it will take you longer to forget it.”

© Bookcurious.com 2020

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