10 minutes 38 seconds in this strange world by Elif Shafak

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 minutes 38 seconds in this strange world by Elif Shafak

British Turkish fiction

Source – Library

I briefly met Elif when she was a judge at the IFFP prize a number of years ago. So when this made the Booker shortlist this year with a few other books I had been interested in I decide to do a little challenge of reading them and this was the first book of the list it is Elif’s eleventh novel I had reviewed an earlier book by her Honour. She has written books in both English and Turkish. She also speaks of women’s rights, minority rights, Freedom of speech and of course Turkey.

She saw herself as a baby – Naked, slick and red.Only a few seconds earlier she had lefther mother’s womb and slid througha wet, slippery passage, gripped by fear wholly new to her, and here she was now in a room full of sounds and colours and things unkown. Sunlight through the stained glass windows dappled the quilt on the bed and reflected off the water in a porcelain basin, despite it being a chillyday in January. Into that same water an elderly woman dressed in shades of autumn leaves- the midwife-dipped a towel and wrung it out, blood trickling down her forearm.

Mashallah, mashalla its a girl

The midwife took a piece of flint, which sha had tucked awayin her bra and cut the ummbilical cord.

I loved the image of the flint in the midwifes hand cutting the cord.

 

This book focus on what would be in a paper may be a small byline and brief description and that is the murder of a prostitute. The Prostitute in by the name is called Tequilla Leila as she is upturned in a bin her life is drifting away and for the last ten minutes she remembers smells that recall her life in parts as each smell leads to a Proustian recall. From Salt which takes her back to her birth and the midwife cutting her from her mother with a piece of Flint. Then Lemon and sugar and the Grand house of her youth that once belonged to an Armenian doctor each minute drifts by and her life moves forward and the smell of Cardamon coffee and the reason she heads to Istanbul and into the brothels after an event with an Uncle. She falls in with five friends that become her second family a man besotted with her and transvestite, a dwarf a singer and a stunning Somalian. Their stories intertwine with Leila own as the minutes tick down her life draws to an end. To a last taste of the strawberry cake and the second half of the book that starts in the morgue and sees what happens with her friends and the aftermath of Tequilla’s Leila life.

Zaynab was born a thousand miles away from Istanbul, in an isolated mountain village in Northern Lebanon. Fpr generations the Sunni famlies in the area had only intermarried, and dwarfism was so common in the village that they often attracted visitors from the outside world- Journalists, scientists and the like. Zaynabs brothers and sisters were average sizes and when the time came they would marry, one after another. Among her siblings she alone had inherited her [arents condition, both of them little people

One of the side stories of her friends the dwarf Zaynab !

I loved the first half of the book the Proustian remembrance of Lelia’s life as she laid dying as the tastes of her life from the salt of her skin and being cut from her mother with a sharpened piece of flint to a strawberry cake each leads to events in the life and shows how one event turns this woman life but also lead her into a different group of friends this is a side character of a Pamuk novel brought to Life this is a colorful view of the Brothels of Istanbul and shows how each woman there has her own story of how they end up there and turned into a beautiful work of fiction that brings to life their world. A strange fact is that there is a woman in a bin in duck Newburyport which I am a third into already. I have read a number of other books from Istanbul but none has brought to life this underbelly of the city!

 

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