#bookreview 10 Minutes and 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak published by Penguin Viking

Nominated in the 2019 Booker Prize longlist


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. . .

My reading experience:

It is not often that a book can capture me with its first few lines, but 10 Minutes is no ordinary tale – it is haunting and unsettling, so full of life and colour, so beautiful in it’s tale of the mind of one woman who is dying. I know this book will stay with me long after I’ve written this review, so unique is it in its structure and notion.

Leila discovers that when the body dies, the mind takes a little longer to ebb away … 10 minutes and 38 seconds to be precise. Each minute brings a new memory full of delicious sensory moments; the smells, sights and sounds of Turkey and her Istanbul; each more vivid and intense than the one before.

Our protagonist has an interesting sparkle, a light within so bright that she brings colour to the world around her. She bedazzles 5 friends and the reader gets to learn about their lives and relationship with Leila through these 10 minutes and what happens afterwards. The dazzling prose are nourishment for the readers’ soul, and Shafak once again delivers a magical, magnificent, glittering story. I can’t recommend this enough … ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I have previously read Shafak’s Three Daughters of Eve – you can read my review here. Find out more about the author at http://www.elifshafak.com

*I purchased my signed copy from Waterstones, Exeter.


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