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  • Monika Satote

Elif Shafak is a master storyteller : 10/10 to her book 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World

Cry, my dear. Never be ashamed of your tears. Cry, and everyone knows you’re alive.

'10 minutes 38 seconds in this strange world' is an ode to all who fight against all the odds to live their life on their terms. Shafak’s prose is so delicate and captivating that I was absorbed in the book like someone was telling me a story - A story of Tequila Leila. She was a sex worker in Istanbul, whose body was found dumped in a bin. In the last 10 minutes 38 secs before she dies, her mind takes a trip back to the memories from her childhood, her family, teenage years and her life in Istanbul, her friends and their stories, and almost everything that mattered to her when she was alive.

The interesting part starts from the title itself. I was so curious about why the book is titled that way. I read the book and I understood, then I did some research and I was shocked. Shafak chose such a rare and great concept to write about. It is something that one should find out while reading. As a story, it's fabulous but at the same time very important. The book highlights so many important themes like exploitation of sex workers, the hardships of immigrants and displaced people, the lives of Muslim women in Turkey, the politics in Turkey, etc. For me, the most horrifying part of this book was reading about the cemetery of the companionless - No tombstones, no flowers, no people - only the bodies of the people who are undesirables and unworthy by the definition of society. Reading about it and then knowing it exists in Istanbul gave me goosebumps and also made me feel sad and disturbed for many reasons.

The book for me was an introduction to the cruel side of Istanbul and lot many themes that I mentioned above. An eye-opener in some sense. Very extraordinary, sensual and thought-provoking read of the year. A must-read, I highly recommend.

Just because you think it’s safe here, it doesn’t mean this is the right place for you, her heart countered. Sometimes where you feel most safe is where you least belong.
People always gave simple names to the complex things that frightened them.

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