Elif Shafak


Elif Shafak was born in France, to Turkish parents, though largely educated in Spain. Shafak holds a PhD in political science and she has taught at various universities in Turkey, the US and the UK, where she now lives.

As well as being a successful writer, she has also presented two TED Global talks which have amassed over 3 millions views.

Why Elif Shafak is our Author of the Month:

  • Elif Shafak is a powerful female writer, an activist for women’s rights, minority rights, and freedom of speech.
  • She writes and speaks about a range of issues including global and cultural politics, the future of Europe, Turkey and the Middle East, democracy, and pluralism.
  • Her books have been nominated for multiple international awards. Ten Minutes and 38 Seconds In This Strange World won Blackwell’s Book of the Year
  • in 2019. It has also been shortlisted for the 2020 RSL Ondaatje Prize. The Forty Rules of Love was chosen by the BBC as one of their 100 Novels which shaped the World.

This is a world of spectacles, About seeing and being seen.

Elif Shafak, The Gaze

Fiction


The Gaze

Available as an eBook

The author explores body image and desirability. An overweight woman and her lover – a dwarf – go out in disguise to avoid being stared at. The book suggests the powerful effects the gaze of a passerby can have on a person.

Ten Minutes 38 Seconds In This Strange World

Available as an eBook and as an eAudiobook

Our brains stay active for ten minutes after our heart stops beating. For Leila, each minute brings with it a new memory: growing up with her father and his 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 – friends who are now desperately trying to find her.

Three Daughter’s of Eve

Available as an eBook and as an eAudiobook

Peri, a wealthy Turkish housewife, is on her way to a dinner party at a seaside mansion in Istanbul when a beggar snatches her handbag. As she wrestles to get it back, a photograph falls to the ground – an old polaroid of three young women and their university professor. A relic from a past – and a love – Peri had tried desperately to forget.The photograph takes Peri back to Oxford University, as an 18-year-old sent abroad for the first time; to her dazzling, rebellious Professor and his life-changing course on God; to her home with her two best friends, Shirin and Mona, and their arguments about Islam and femininity; and finally, to the scandal that tore them all apart.

The Architect’s Apprentice

Available as an eBook and as an eAudiobook

When Jahan travels to 16th-century Istanbul as a stowaway, with the gift of a white elephabt for the Sultan, little does he anticipate the journey on which he is about to embark. Whispers in the palace gardens and secret journeys through Istanbul lead him to Mihrimah, the beautiful princess. Still under her spell, he is promoted from simple mahut to apprentice of the royal architect, Sinan – when his fortunes take a mysterious change.

The Flea Palace 

Available as an eBook

Bonbon Palace was once a stately apartment block in Istanbul. Now it is a sadly dilapidated home to ten wildly different individuals and their families. When the rubbish at Bonbon Palace is stolen, a mysterious sequence of events unfolds that result in a soul-searching quest for truth.

The Bastard of Istanbul

Available as an eBook and as an eAudiobook

One rainy afternoon in Istanbul, a woman walks into a doctor’s surgery. ‘I need to have an abortion’, she announces. She is nineteen years old and unmarried. What happens that afternoon will change her life.Twenty years later, Asya Kazanci lives with her extended family in Istanbul. Due to a mysterious family curse, all the Kaznci men die in their early forties, so it is a house of women, among them Asya’s beautiful, rebellious mother Zeliha, who runs a tattoo parlour; Banu, who has newly discovered herself as clairvoyant; and Feride, a hypochondriac obsessed with impending disaster. And when Asya’s Armenian-American cousin Armanoush comes to stay, long hidden family secrets connected with Turkey’s turbulent past begin to emerge.

Honour

Available as an eBook and as an eAudiobook

When Pembe leaves the Kurdish village of her birth, and her twin sister with it, it is for love. She follows her husband, Adem, to London with the hope of making a new life, but the family soon faces a stark choice: to stay loyal to the old traditions or try their best to fit in. When Adem abandons his family, it is Iskender, Pembe’s eldest son, who must step in and prevent shame from falling on the family name. And when Pembe begins a chaste affair with a man named Elias, Iskender will discover that you could love someone with all your heart and yet be ready to hurt them. Trapped by the mistakes of the past, the Toprak children find their lives shattered and transformed by a brutal act of murder.

The Forty Rules of Love

Available as an eBook and as an eAudiobook

Ella Rubinstein has a husband, three teenage children, and a pleasant home. Everything that should make her confident and fulfilled. Yet there is an emptiness at the heart of Ella’s life – an emptiness once filled by love.So when Ella reads a manuscript about the thirteenth-century Sufi poet Rumi and Shams of Tabriz, and his forty rules of life and love, she is shocked out of herself. Turning her back on her family she embarks on a journey to meet the mysterious author of this work.It is a quest infused with Sufi mysticism and verse, taking Ella and us into an exotic world where faith and love are heartbreakingly explored…


Non-Fiction


Black Milk

Available as an eBook

Postpartum depression affects millions of new mothers every year, and- like most of its victims- Elif Shafak never expected to be one of them. But after the birth of her first child in 2006, the internationally bestselling Turkish author remembers how “for the first time my adult life . . . words wouldn’t speak to me”. As her despair finally eased, Shafak sought to resuscitate her writing life by chronicling her own experiences.In her intimate memoir, she reveals how she struggled to overcome her depression and how literature provided the salvation she so desperately needed.

The Happiness of Blond People

Available as an eBook

Written to be read over a long commute or a short journey, they are original and exclusively in digital form. This is Elif Shafak’s examination of national identity.”You know, I never understand. How come their children are so quiet and well disciplined?””Yeah,” said the distressed father, his voice suddenly softer. “Blond children never cry, do they?”As Elif Shafak stands in line at the airport, she overhears a Turkish father expressing to a friend his bewilderment at the cultural differences he’s experienced since immigrating to northern Europe. Is it true, she wonders, that the citizens of these countries are genuinely happier? Why do people leave their homes for other countries? And what lessons can we all learn, for the creation of truly harmonious societies, from the experiences of immigrants?In the light of the recent backlash against multiculturalism and the influx of millions of Muslims into Europe from the east, this powerful and personal essay uses the lived experience of immigrants to examine this most hotly debated subject.

1914-Goodbye to all that

Available as an eBook

In this collection of essays, ten leading writers from different countries, including Elif Shafak, consider the conflicts that have informed their own literary lives. 1914-Goodbye to All That borrows its title from Robert Graves’s “bitter leave-taking of England” in which he writes not only of the First World War but the questions it raised: how to live, how to live with each other, and how to write.Interpreting this title as broadly and ambiguously as Graves intended, these essays mark the War’s centenary by reinvigorating these questions.

Try not to resist the changes that come your way. Instead let life live through you. And do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?

Elif Shafak, The Forty Rules of Love

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