▫️10 Minutes, 38 Seconds in this Strange World | Psychological Fiction
▫️Author: Elif Shafak @shafakelif
▫️My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
▫️Pub Date: May 2019
It is thought in the moments after we leave this world that our brains can still continue to function, perhaps even show us images of our lives leading up to this moment. It is said that this could occur for as long as 10 minutes and 38 seconds. So as Leilia’s body is lying within the rubbish of a bin her brain is flooded with the smells, sights and most importantly people that punctuated her life.
Leila spent her adult life working within the brothels of Istanbul, this undoubtedly taking a toll on her spirit and her body but despite her pain what is at the core of this book is friendship. The bonds formed through adversity that get us through life, love and loss.
There is no question of Shafak’s ability to craft gorgeous, visceral images and portray the darkest moments of humanity with such gut wrenching honesty. However, with this book set in two halves I found a real disconnect between the two. The beautiful imagery within the first half seemed to dissipate into what felt almost a slapstick comedy routine. Perhaps a bit of life relief considering the context but I just found it a bit of a mismatch
This taught me vast amounts about Istanbul’s history and culture in a beautifully human way as well as providing a heartbreaking exploration of the treatment of women, sex workers and those within the LGBTQIA+ community in Turkey. The idea of chosen family is at the heart of this book and despite everything, this book will still restore your faith in humanity and the strength of love.
Reviewed by Megan Raynor