10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World
Image source: Google

Rating: 4.4/5

Author: Elif Shafak

Publisher: Viking Press

Publishing Date: June 2019

Language: English

Genre: Literary Fiction

ISBN-10: 1635574471

ISBN-13: 978-1635574470

Format: Paperback

Pages: 320

Cost: Rs. 500 (Paperback), Rs. 346.96 (Kindle Edition), Rs. 1,239 (Hardcover)


“In the first minute following her death, Tequila Leila's consciousness began to ebb, slowly and steadily, like a tide receding from the shore...”

The novel gives voice to the invisible, the untouchable, the abused, and the damaged. For Leila, each minute after her death recalls a sensuous memory: spiced goat stew, sacrificed by her father to celebrate the birth of a yearned-for son; bubbling vats of lemon and sugar to wax women's legs while men are at prayer; the cardamom coffee she shares with a handsome student in the brothel where she works. Each fading memory brings back the friends she made in her bittersweet life - friends who are now desperately trying to find her.


A mere look at the premise will grip you the story instantly-

In the pulsating moments after she has been murdered and left in a dumpster outside Istanbul, Tequila Leila enters a state of heightened awareness. Her heart has stopped beating but her brain is still active for 10 minutes, 38 seconds. While the Turkish sun rises and her friends sleep soundly nearby, she remembers her life and the lives of others, outcasts like her.

This novel is absolutely significant keeping in mind- the social and political scenario of today around the world. The book is textured with fine amounts of facts and fiction, everything well balanced till the very end.

The journey is shown through the eyes of a dying prostitute- Tequila Leila who had lived on the streets in Istanbul where they harboured the oldest licensed brothels.

Throughout the novel, there are reoccurring themes about women’s rights and political restraints. The family background of the protagonist is also much unheard of- a polygamous family with two mothers and an increasingly authoritarian father. Leila takes us into the world of sex trafficking, the historic Street of Brothels. It unfolds a dark, violent world, but Leila is tough and open to beauty, light, and the essential bonds of friendship.

In Tequila Leila’s death, the secrets and wonders of modern Istanbul come to life, painted vividly by the captivating tales of how Leila came to know and be loved by her friends. As her epic journey to the afterlife comes to an end, it is her chosen family who brings her story to a booming, vigorous and breath-taking conclusion.

Milestones of the Book:

  • Shortlisted for the 2019 Booker Prize
  • It was named a Best Book of the Year by Bookpage, NPR, Washington Post, and The Economist

About the Author:

Elif Shafak is an award-winning British-Turkish novelist and the most widely read female author in Turkey. She writes in both Turkish and English and has published seventeen books, eleven of which are novels. Her work has been translated into fifty languages. Shafak holds a PhD in political science and she has taught at various universities in Turkey, the US and the UK, including St Anne's College, Oxford University, where she is an honorary fellow. She is a member of World Economic Forum, Global Agenda Council on Creative Economy, and a founding member of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR).

An advocate for women's rights, LGBT rights and freedom of speech, Shafak is an inspiring public speaker and twice a TED global speaker, each time receiving a standing ovation. Shafak contributes to many major publications around the world, and she has been awarded the title of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres. In 2017 she was chosen by Politico as one of the twelve people who would make the world better. She has judged numerous literary prizes and is chairing the Wellcome Book Prize 2019.