A moving novel with moments of true anguish, by the end of this book the joy does outshine the grief. I’m very excited to read more from Shafak as her writing is a testament to her passion for storytelling and love for Turkey.
I loved the recurring motif of ‘The Five’ that Leila kept mentioning – these were her groups of friends while she was alive and despite the injustices and abuse she faced, any mention of them felt instantly familiar and safe. Being a book about family, friendship, love, sex, and life 10 Minutes attempts to tackle many themes and issues and its a beautiful collage of them all.

Leila, or Tequila Leila, being the protagonist was obviously fascinating; a lot of her story is tragic, but I got the sense while reading that Shafak didn’t want her death to be sad – rather she used it to tell her story and celebrate her life instead. The dichotomy of the narrative fluctuating from the murder and violence rife in Istanbul, to the beauty of the individuality those existing there can find, overall it was a beautiful book and one I found hard to put down.

Firstly, this premise is so unique and intriguing that I think you’d struggle to find anyone whose interest isn’t at least a little bit piqued. Far from being a whimsical story with an other worldly feel, this book is very much grounded in reality and undulates through Istanbul telling the stories of Leila but also a plethora of eclectic characters too.

Title: 10 Mintues and 38 Seconds in this Strange World
Author: Elif Shafak
Type: Fiction
Published: 2019
Pages: 306
TW: Child Sexual Assault, Violence, Misogyny, Rape, Sexual Assault, Murder, Transphobia

8.6Beautiful, Heart-breaking, Moving

Review overview



“We must do what we can to mend our lives, we owe that to ourselves – but we need to be careful not to break others while achieving that.” 

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