Translated from: English
Authors: Shafak, Elif
Translated by: Razmaitė, Rūta
Published in: Vilnius
Published on: 2020
Publisher: Tyto alba
Elif Shafak’s novel “10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World” tells the story of the protagonist’s life as she is dying. The idea of the book is very interesting in that each memory (chapter) is associated with a certain taste or smell. This allows the reader to think and try to guess what this smell / taste might remind Leila.
Tequila Leila is lying in a garbage container with slowly disappearing signs of life. However, she did not know that death is so slow and can take as long as 10 minutes and 38 seconds. During this seemingly short period of time, Leila once again experiences the most memorable moments of her life, which gradually reveal her complicated past. She remembers her family life which was full of lies, her sexual exploitation, her escape to Istanbul and her living in a hostel. But among the dark memories, she emphasizes the lucky ones – about her best friends.
Sabotage Sinan, Nostalgia Nalan, Jamila, Zainab122, Hollywood Humeira and Tequila Leila herself are people rejected by life and condemned by society. But destiny allowed them to meet in Istanbul and become friends of this condemnatory and sad life. Every irreplaceable friend of Leila has their own story that is related to her past and allows the reader to look even deeper into the mysteries of the novel that have not yet been solved.
After 10 minutes and 38 seconds in the dark crossroads of Istanbul, Leila’s memories slowly fade, the story of the novel turns in an unexpected direction – all the friends who appeared in Leila’s memories meet in real time. Overwhelmed by the news of Leila’s death, her friends want to see the face of a friend who has suddenly left and decide to go meet her for the last time. But even this sincere request turns out to be a difficult mission that friends will still have to fight for.
Elif Shafak is a writer of British and Turkish origin who has written as many as 17 books and won numerous awards. The novel “10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World”, written in 2019, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and selected as the yearbook of the British book retailer Blackwell.