10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World

Elif Shafak. Bloomsbury, $27 (320p) ISBN 978-1-63557-447-0
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. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 09/23/2019
Release date: 09/24/2019
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-1-63557-581-1
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