10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World – Elif Shafak – 04.04.21

According to this book (I don’t know if it’s true or not), scientists have shown that brain activity can continue for up to 10 minutes 38 seconds after clinical death, and that is the premise for the first half of the novel, as we share the thoughts of Leila, a sex worker in Istanbul for the ten and a half minutes immediately after her murder. She remembers her life, from her birth and childhood, to the circumstances that lead to her becoming a sex worker. These memories are hung around her meetings with five significant people who she has loved and who have loved her. We also get a short back story for each of these characters, making this part of the book a little too disjointed for my tastes, almost like a series of connected but separate short stories. For me, the second half of the book, where these five friends of Leila’s come together to try to give her a proper burial is where the book really comes alive – it has humour, pathos and shocking stories of abuse within families and in greater society not unique to the Turkish culture, but interestingly framed within it.

Published by sarahrwray

I'm an erstwhile writer and forever reader and book reviewer.

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