’10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World’ by Elif Shafak


Shafak’s vivid imagery slides off the page and dances across the reader’s mind with beguiling lucidity.

Tequila Leila’s life feels so real, so full of delightful tastes and desperate tragedies, that it’s easy to forget she’s dying in a bin.

The powerlessness of Istanbul’s oppressed minorities is brought to life touchingly through Tequila Leila’s five fiercely loyal friends. We experience the frustration of this set of “undesirables”, the city’s outcasts and rejects, always forced to live on the periphery.

One of the most interesting aspects of this book is the way it presents the plethora of experiences and perspectives that co-exist within a single city. Depending on the frame through which we are looking, what we see – and what we fail to notice – can vary greatly.

This is a tale of brutal violence, which ultimately will leave the reader with a small glimmer of hope. Shafak is thoroughly deserving of her place on the 2019 Booker shortlist.

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