I was delighted to be asked to join the blog tour for 10 minutes and 38 seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak, thank you very much to the publisher and Georgia for my review copy. Very much appreciated.
An intensely powerful new novel from the best-selling author of The Bastard of Istanbul and Honour.
‘In the first minute following her death, Tequila Leila’s consciousness began to ebb, slowly and steadily, like a tide receding from the shore. Her brain cells, having run out of blood, were now completely deprived of oxygen. But they did not shut down. Not right away…’
For Leila, each minute after her death brings a sensuous memory: the taste of spiced goat stew, sacrificed by her father to celebrate the long-awaited birth of a son; the sight of bubbling vats of lemon and sugar which the women use to wax their legs while the men attend mosque; the scent of cardamom coffee that Leila shares with a handsome student in the brothel where she works. Each memory, too, recalls the friends she made at each key moment in her life – friends who are now desperately trying to find her. . .
Some books you know from the very beginning – from page 1, that you are going to enjoy following the story and the characters. That is not to say that 10 minutes 38 seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak didn’t being with a rather challenging opening prologue because it did, it opened with a death. The death of the main character, Leila – Tequila Leila. A rather brutal death. I just knew from the writing it was going to be a book for me.
I very much enjoyed the episodic structure of the book with the various chapters dipping in and out of Leila’s life at pivotal moments, while sharing some the stories from her childhood and life and also the stories of those people who left their mark. It was a complex novel with the memories sparked by smells or tastes from Leila’s past – a clever idea that worked well. The whole book was interesting. At points the story was unsettling and it dealt with some difficult topics and violence against women, but it wasn’t just a sad story. It was so much more.
The writing was beautiful. Stunning. Memorable. The type of writing as a writer I aspire to produce. The characters were varied and all of them captured my attention, I doubt I will forget Tequila Leila anytime soon. It was a book unlike all the other books I have read this year. It was a stand out story.
And the settings from the more rural home of Leila’s childhood to the brothel in Istanbul were brought to life for me via Shafak’s writing. Istanbul isn’t a place I have had the pleasure of visiting but the writing created that image for me. I just hope if I ever visited I wouldn’t run into Bitter Ma
I very much thought that it was a great read. I will be eagerly awaiting whatever Elif Shafak writes next.