'In the first minute following her death, Tequila 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 . . . '
Our brains stay active for ten minutes after our heart stops beating. For Tequila Leila, each minute brings with it a new memory- growing up with her father and his two wives in a grand old house in a quiet Turkish town; watching the women gossip and wax their legs while the men went to mosque; sneaking cigarettes and Western magazines on her way home from school; running away to Istanbul to escape an unwelcome marriage; falling in love with a student who seeks shelter from a riot in the brothel where she works. Most importantly, each memory reminds Leila of the five friends she met along the way - the friends who are now desperately trying to find her.
Elif Shafak is one of today's most influential international writers and intellectuals who straddle East and West. She is the acclaimed author of ten novels including The Architect's Apprentice and The Bastard of Istanbul, and is the most widely read female writer in Turkey. Her work has been translated into over forty languages and she has been awarded the prestigious Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres. She is also a public speaker, a women's and LGBT rights activist and a commentator who regularly contributes to world publications including The New York Times, The Guardian, Der Spiegel and La Repubblica. Elif has been longlisted for the Orange Prize, the Baileys Prize and the IMPAC Dublin Award, and shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the Ondaatje Prize. She lives in London and can be found at
Incredibly sensuous and poetic and evocative -- Pandora Sykes The High Low Shafak is the most exciting Turkish novelist to reach western readers in years Irish Times Sensual Observer Extraordinary Guardian Life-affirming Stylist A haunting masterpiece Irish Mail on Sunday Lush, evocative and compassionate Mail on Sunday Leila's complex inner life is laid bare in this touching novel, which is vaguely reminiscent of The Lovely Bones. 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 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 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 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 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 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 Deeply moving Sunday Times Simply magnificent, a truly captivating work of immense power and beauty, on the essence of life and its end. -- Philippe Sands One of the best writers in the world today -- Hanif Kureishi Haunting, moving, beautifully written - and based by an extraordinary cast of characters who capture the diversity of modern Turkey. A masterpiece. -- Peter Frankopan
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