Book Review: 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World by Elif Shafak

Rating: ★★★★★

Genre: Fiction/ General Fiction

Source: Watersones listing

When I finished this book, I just had to sit there and take it all in. This book is amazing. There was so much said and so much representation. It had a lot to say about life, people, society and beliefs (religious and political). Reading this was an ethereal experience and I’m so glad I finally got around to buying it.


Leila is lying dead in a rubbish bin in Pera, a city in Istanbul known for liberalism, debauchery and Westernization. As her body is shutting down, neurones in her brain are still ticking away, bringing back scents and memories both distant and not so long ago. We learn about Leila’s upbringing, the pains from her family home and how Leila obtained her freedom, moved to the city and built friendships stronger than family.

What I Thought

I loved the main charater Leila, she was feisty, loved life and loved being in the city. I loved the friendships in this story, her friend Nalan said that there is your blood family and your water family and sometimes water is thicker than blood. They were such good friends to eachother, all bonded by having to leave their families for a better life or to live out their destinies in the city. I haven’t felt so much towards characters in a book for a long time, I truly enjoyed getting to know them.

The representation in this book is phenomenal, the friendship group featured in this novel came from all walks of life and they breathed so much life into this story.

What I Appreciated

This book is quietly educational in terms of the history of Istanbul and the treatment of sex workers and covers political and religious topics extremely well. Shafak does not shy away from depicting issues covering violence, the massacre in Istanbul on International Workers Day and the treatment of women.

There was a lot of symbolism with the blue betta fish, the cycle of life and destiny. It was so interesting and so satisfying to read, it was so so well written. This is a truly soulful, beautiful, political, spiritual and original novel.

Thanks for reading,

Charlon ♦︎