10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World – A book review

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World – A book review

Have you ever thought about what happens to a person after their death? Do they go to heaven or hell? Or you believe that the body function stops and that is the end of it? Explore Elif Shafak’s version of post death in 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World with me, won’t you?

#10Minutes38SecondsInThisStrangeWorld would be a great choice if you want to read about richly woven historical tale about the minorities in Istanbul. Explore Elif Shafak's version of post death with me, won't you? Share on X

About 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World

Book Name: 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World

Author: Elif Shafak

Genre: Fiction – Drama

Characters: Tequila Leila, Sabotage Sinan, Nostalgia Nalan, Jameelah, Zaynab122 and Hollywood Humeyra

Setting: Istanbul, Turkey

Plot Summary of 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World

The book begins with the death of the protagonist Leila and we walk through her life during the last few minutes of her consciousness. With her body disposed in a dumpster dismissively, her mind wanders through her recollections of her childhood, her family disowning her and finding her own set of friends and finally her murder. 

Along the journey we are taken on a ride to visit a patriarch family that has grown more and more orthodox while struggling with a child with Down syndrome and the pressure that had on a smart young girl with two mothers who would not speak against their devout father. 

We also see glimpses of the streets from the forbidden parts of the city, that we are encouraged to look away from where our protagonist meets her beloved friends who turn out to be ‘her family’. 

When Leila’s body is finally buried in a cemetery for the “companionless”, the friends take it upon themselves to help her rest in peace. Did they succeed in getting their friend the end she deserved form the rest of the story in 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World. 

Book review of 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World

This is just more than a story of a dead sex worker and her friends. It is a tale of the minorities – the “wayward” women, the queers, the physically different of Istanbul and anyone who wouldn’t fit the norms of a “society”. It is also a tale of friendship and how family is about whom you choose to be with. 

I was not happy with the author’s The Forty rules of love and I was reluctant to pick this one. 

But I liked the author’s writing style – well, the part one. I loved the part one about the city and its rich history and culture. But the second part was slow and dragging and I actually had to skim. The distinction in the writing and narrative style felt too different between the two parts made was too glaring to ignore.

Things that worked for me

  • I liked the non linear narrative and that kept me on my toes. 
  • I loved knowing about Istanbul via its history and politics, and through the lives of these friends. 

Things that didn’t work for me

  • I wish there was a smooth transition between both the parts.
  • Even though I felt the friends set a bit of cliche but I liked their dynamic. 

Bottom-line

If you are a fan of Elif Shafak or The Forty rules of love, you will love the book. For others, 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World would be a great choice if you want to read about richly woven historical tale about the minorities in Istanbul. 

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10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World – A book review

The Forty rules of love by Elif Shafak: A Book reviews

Do you ever feel so disappointed in yourself when you don’t fall in love with a book? I did as I read The Forty rules of love. When I was in a reading slump a while ago, a friend of mine nudged (read as: pushed) me towards this one as this was one of her favorite books.

I had had few others recommending this book earlier, and the time had finally come for me to pick The Forty rules of love. So let us see how that turned out for me right?

About The Forty rules of love

Forty rules of love Elif Shafak

Book Name: The Forty rules of love

Author: Elif Shafak

Genre: Fiction – Drama, Magical Realism, Historical

Characters: Ella, Rumi, Shams-i Tabrizi

Setting: The USA, Turkey

Plot Summary of The Forty rules of love

The Forty rules of love is a story within a story. Ella, a married woman is going through a mid life crisis with a loveless marriage, a husband who is cheating on her and kids who don’t need her anymore.

When her young daughter announces that she is getting married to her boyfriend, Ella finds it hard to believe that people (i.e. her daughter) wanted to marry for love

Ella is a beta reader who receives a manuscript from an author with whom she begins email conversation. She realizes that Aziz was so different from her and his beliefs and faith shock her as much as they enthuse her.

She continues to read his manuscript about two friends, Rumi and Sham and learns about their Dervish ways of life, which a part of Islam. Does the relationship between Ella and Aziz go any further? Does Ella’s perception of life change at all? Read The Forty rules of love to know further.

Book review of The Forty rules of love

As I was telling earlier, I tried so hard to like The Forty rules of love but I was left disappointed. And for once it was not because of my high expectations or the hype. I just failed to understand the whole point of the rules of love and completely disliked the preachy tone and wonder if it had anything to do with the translation or it was just the writing itself. 

I wish it had a little bit lightheartedness in it to make it more fun to read. There were too many small characters to remember but I can understand why they were needed, to educate every rule. I still wish the characters had more depth, while they were all card board cut – the non religious were all evil and the religious ones were all love and simple. 

Things that worked for me

  • I loved the way the author had mixed in Turkish culture and history to the story. 
  • The ideology behind the rules for the love to God and one another was novel and interesting (to a point).
  • Reading this story has increased my interest in reading the poems of Rumi which are well known. 

Things that didn’t work for me

  • I wish the characters were more complex and deeper.
  • I didn’t like the moral, preachy tones that made it difficult to like the characters. 
  • To be fair I have never had a thing for magical realism. Maybe I don’t get it well enough to appreciate it. 

Bottom-line

I am happy for all those for whom this book worked. But it didn’t for me, I understand why didn’t work for me. I might give the author another try, in a few years and maybe it will work then. Keeping my fingers crossed. 

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everyone but left you disappointed? Let us talk