10 Minutes, 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak

One of the most exciting things about this novel is its structure. Written from the end of Leila’s life as her consciousness flows from her body, dead and dumped in a rubbish bin in Istanbul, we explore her life through those last conscious moments and then watch as her friends attempt to celebrate her life and release her spirit. 

As a prostitute Leila is one of the undesirables, rejected by her family, and therefore buried in the Cemetery of the Companionless, the proper rites of death left unfinished, her grave marked by a small wooden plaque with a painted number that will undoubtedly soon fade into obscurity.

More than a novel about people pushed to the margins in Istanbul, this is a book that celebrates friendship and puts love above politics, religion and propriety.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel and tasting the world and lives of its characters through rich sensory prose. Shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2019, 10 Minutes, 38 Seconds in This Strange World is more than worthy of the time it takes to read those dying embers of consciousness.

I’ll be reviewing The Push by Ashley Audrain next.

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