10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World

Shafak, Elif

  31 Reviews

10 minutes and 38 seconds, the time it takes for the brain to shut down after death, and the time now allotted to Tequila Leila to share the story of her life. From Leila's childhood in a rural Turkish town to life as a prostitute, from her cherished outcast friends to the events bringing her to her final resting place, this structurally original novel lays bare the life of a lively and complex woman.

Compassionate and powerful, this is an insightful story combining lyrical prose with an unflinching portrait of modern Istanbul.



Loved this! Unusual, insightful, provoking and deliciously written.
A very unusual book, but a very good read.
NAP 020
Book enjoyed, well-written. It shows there is still a serious problem in Turkey with violence around women. We all liked the way Leila ( from the dead) tells the story.
What an excellent writer Elif Shafak is. The book highlighted the wrongs women still face in Turkey. Excellent discussion.
Most readers were intrigued by the lives of the different characters, and saddened by the place of women in this society. The bond of friendship between the characters was amazing.
Looking forward to reading some of her other books.
THAM 002
Everyone felt slightly depressed at the beginning ( the death of the protagonist) but all rejoiced in the friendships and relationships which developed in the book.
CHCH 517
We enjoyed learning about each of the characters, and how they became connected to the dead character, and we loved her writing style. However the closing of the story seemed to be quite disconnected to the style of the beginning, and we were left wondering why the author did this.
All thought it was a novel way to start a story. Enjoyed the writing style and the insight into the characters' lives. An interesting way to learn about other customs.
AUCK 160
We all really enjoyed this book! And liked and admired Leila and her friends. Also we had the advantage of a guest at our meeting who had read the book and is Turkish and had lived in Istanbul for some years. It gave another dimension to the story. Not sure about the slapstick second part but it did provide alleviation to the dark themes.
AUCK 412
Very mixed reviews on this book. Of those who loved it, they enjoyed the writing style (very clever) and the humour interlaced with the tragic life of Leila. It is a real eye-opener into the life of women (and men) down on their luck in Turkey.
TAIH 002
We all thoroughly enjoyed this book!!! Lots of discussion re cultures, norms, life after death etc. A great book and well-written.
NELS 042
Everyone loved this book - the style and the content.
This book caused lots of animated discussion within our group. Definitely provoked a lot of interest although the 'dark start' proved off-putting to some! Excellent at highlighting the way we marginalise others - a reminder to accept others as they are. Well-written with beautiful language. Very informative re Turkish politics - the way women are treated! The novel highlighted the humanitarian side of life - how important friendship is and how family does not have to be "blood" family.
Not a bad read, but there were a few cliched "bad bits" eg: the child abuse and the weird chase scene at the end.
Extraordinary, well-written book. Deeply moving.
We liked this story - great writing style, imagery and relationships. It was a cruel and sad although informative tale of the plight of women and transsexuals , who through no fault of their own are born into that society. It was spiritual, and the connection with water at the beginning and end is interesting. It was wonderful for the 5 misfits to come together, and form a strong and loving bond in support of each other. A reminder that human kindness and love can reign over adversity.
TAUR 028
Beautifully written; one of the best writers this decade. There was joy; but it was a sympathetic portrayal of women, especially in some more traditional societies, with the injustice, pain, misogyny and trauma they suffer. Some people found the death theme unsettling, but some of us thought it a very clever way of telling a story.
AUCK 443
The window into the multiplex culture of Istanbul and the wrenching secrets that must be kept by some individuals and their families over generations, is a sad portrayal of what is unacceptable in many cultures, not just Turkey. The author has raised awareness of the tragedy within societies which can't face acceptance of diversity although it is all around them. A few mundane similes were far overshadowed by the beautifully sensuous descriptions of environment, taste, smell etc. We felt we were there and amongst Leila's friends.
HAVE 015
Loved it! Some thought the ending a bit gruesome and hurried, but loved the rest.
NAP 005
Everyone in our group enjoyed this book which generated a lot of discussion. It was very well-written and very readable. It was such an original and creative way to introduce the story, drawing in the main characters and how they came to live in Istanbul. Although they all had different beliefs and completely different backgrounds, Leilah united them with her interest in them, and her kindness. It emphasised how, as a united group even though outcasts, life is more manageable in a country where men with money and power rule.
THAM 003
Very mixed response to this book. Some loved it, some did not finish. Interesting exploration of a life. Those who finished it said it was worth persevering with.
CHCH 001
This book was very well received - a 'page turner' with lots of different twists and turns. It could have been 'dark' but the central character and her five friends made for intriguing reading. Very well-written - easy to read and a most unusual plot.
WELL 046
A harrowing but very well-written and fascinating book. Thoroughly worth reading.
This book got a very mixed review, with some people really struggling to complete it and others really enjoying the way it was written.
A fascinating and unique concept which everyone enjoyed. Beautifully written with interesting descriptions of the life, customs, culture and attitudes in Turkey, especially in regards to women. The author was obviously well attuned to Istanbul. A great story about how friendships can support and sustain through tough times. Some of the later chapters became a bit farcical and detracted from the earlier chapters. Overall a beautifully written novel that cleverly entwines fact and fiction in a unique way.
Loved by all once they got into the read, some thought the blunt start of a murdered prostitute's dying memories was a fascinating way to set the tone of the story. Mostly we loved their friendships and shared grief which were beautifully told, as were the author's vivid settings which we could taste and sense.
CHCH 503
We all really enjoyed this book. We have read other books by this author, and find her way of expressing herself is meaningful and insightful. Felt the 'cemetery' a bit "slapstick".
AUCK 143
There was universal appreciation of the beautiful writing style, and also the power of characterisation of the friends.
Most of the group rated this book highly but many commented that if they'd picked it up in a shop/library and read the back cover they wouldn't have bought it -they're now pleased that bookclub made them read it! The writing was fantastic and the structure and themes made for lively discussion. We would read more from this author.
NELS 086
Enjoyed by all the group. Particularly enjoyed the cultural feel, and those who had travelled to Turkey found it very relatable.