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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*
Shortlisted for the 2019 Man Booker Prize, this audacious, inventive novel by Shafak (Three Daughters of Eve) begins with the death of its protagonist and moves onward from there. An Istanbul prostitute known as "Tequila Leila" is murdered and her body thrown into a dumpster. Though her heart stops beating, her brain continues to function for the 10 minutes and 38 seconds of the title, as she is jolted back to the settings of her most graphic memories. Leila, it turns out, grew up in a rural Turkish town, where she was separated from her mother in infancy. Sexually abused by her uncle and threatened with an arranged marriage, teenage Leila took off to Istanbul, where the only work she could find was in the sex trade. Leila is a lively character, and her life, particularly in Istanbul, isn't unrelentingly bleak. The narrative opens up in surprising ways when Leila's five best friends, all outcasts like herself whose pasts are detailed in the book, decide to rescue her body from the "Cemetery of the Companionless," where it has been unceremoniously buried. This is a vividly realized and complicated portrait of a woman making a life for herself in grueling circumstances, and of the labyrinthine city in which she does so.