10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World by Elif Shafak
‘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. . .
I cannot believe that this is my first review of a book written by one of our foremost critically acclaimed female writers of our time in Elif Shafak. After reading her latest novel set in the bustling city of Istanbul. 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World is just breath-taking.
10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World is in fact the last moments of the life of Tequila Leila’s life. These are her dying moments and each one a memory.
Tequila was a prostitute and her body has been dumped within the city and left to die. It is during these last moments of her life that she recalls her own past in flashbacks to her childhood and growing up, her family and the tastes and the smells of the Istanbul. But also her five friends that gave her the life and also peace of mind. Through these last minutes we see these friends that became close to Tequila they like her were surviving as only they knew how. They left the families and made their own lives. Living from one day to another they had created their own unique community looking out for one another. Each one is different and it is down to the reader to find one that you become fond of. I became attached to all of them just because they were so supportive of each other. I just warmed to their individual lifestyles.
Now I know why so many people love and totally respect the writing of Elif Shafak, only Elife can bring a story set in Turkey and breathe such life into such a story. There are of course many sad moments that will leave you asking many questions but there are some moments of real humanity and warmth. This is the story of Tequila Leila’s life and how she met her death. Leila is strong and this really comes across in this simply magnificent novel. Istanbul is vibrant and colourful. Her friends are bereft and devastated at the loss of their friend and cannot give her the burial she deserves. I am now a fan of Elif Shafak and will be seeking out further novels in the future.
For more information on Elif Shafak: http://www.elifsafak.com.tr/
Twitter: @Elif_Safak; Instagram @shafakelif
Thank you to Viking Books UK for the review copy of 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World by Elif Shafak
10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange Worldby Elif Shafak is published by Viking UK and was published on 6th June 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.