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The Gaze

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  1,123 ratings  ·  38 reviews
“An enchanting combination of compassion and cruelty…Elif Shafak is the best author to come out of Turkey in the last decade.”—Orhan Pamuk

A new title from the author of The Flea Palace, shortlisted for the Independent Prize for Foreign Fiction and chosen for Waterstone’s 2005 Summer Reading promotion.

In her prize-wining novel, The Gaze, Shafak explores the subject of body
Paperback, 252 pages
Published July 1st 2006 by Marion Boyars Publishers Ltd (first published 1999)
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Tamam artık. Şu ana kadar üç tane Elif Şafak romanı okudum ve bu sonuncusu olacak. Bundan sonra dünyanın en güzel kitabını yazdığı iddia edilse dahi, daha fazla dayanamıyorum bu kadının kitaplarına. Onu da biliyorum, şunu da biliyorum, bakın ben neler neler biliyorum! Kurguda okuruna böyle üstten bakmak, caka satmak son derece rahatsız edici bir yazar için. Çok özgün bir konu seçip bu konuyu oryantalist masallarla süsleyip Türk okuru dışındaki herkese pazarlamaya çalışmanın bir timsalidir "Mahre ...more
Vivek Tejuja

Off late I have been reading books about issues. About differences and the human condition when it comes to dealing with the differences. The idea of humanity is so complex at times. Everything that can be black and white is not. Everything is hankered over. Every aspect of life is microscopically looked at. Nothing is left the way it is, the way nature intended it to be. The way people think of us starts from the way they start looking at us, the way they perceive us to be. This is where it all
Vildan Arıcan
I really really love that intermingled style of writing ı mean nearly four stories go hand in hand without any ambigous pace. Like a breath that you take when you got kindda familiar with one story that you are involved-reading,,, For example I like that fat woman most, that's why I read the other parts faster as to get to pieces together which ll place a whole story of the fat woman and her absurd-like lover:)
Dec 27, 2014 Rima added it
Some novels are better left "unseen"!
Sonia Ahmed
I have never read anything like that before. I am awed by her ability to describe ordinary things of daily life such extraordinarily and extraordinary things such brilliantly.
When I started reading this book, I went through the reviews and was amused to see someone relating this book to an extremely fatty lasagna dish. The similarity is striking. Like a lasagna, you keep getting stuffed but you keep eating anyway because all the different flavors of cheese, meat, pasta and sauces keep stimulatin
This review was originally posted at

The Gaze is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Several stories, set in different times and places, each deal with different facets of the burden of being judged by one’s outward appearance. Facts and fiction intermingle in this book which is relatively short, only 264 pages, but is so packed with wonderful things that it feels like a much longer read. The build-up of the book is quite odd, because you feel like it s
Sorin Hadârcă
The Gaze is an amazing book. With its action taking place in the colonized Siberia of the 17th century, revolutionary France of the 19th and modernizing Ottoman Empire of the late 19th it turns out to be story of an obese woman and a dwarf in the nowadays Turkish Republic.

Respectively, the book has many layers including a Dictionary of Gazes – a lifelong project of the dwarf and a focal point of all the stories. In turns, we observe the interrupted transformation of a shaman in Siberia, resulted
This is, so far, the only book written by Elif Shafak that disappointed me. Its main theme revolves around seeing, being seen, visual perception in general. Yet it lacks depth and consistency.

There are two main stories - the one of the heroine (no name given) and her boyfriend, B-C (her an obese woman, him a dwarf), and the one about Keramet Mumi Keske Memis Efendi and his circus; one taking place in '99, one in 1885.

There are interesting concepts brought up about beauty, ugliness, being seen/
Didn't get on with this one, it wasn't quite what the blurb on the back told me...or rather it was, but a lot more besides... I was expecting a story about an obese lady and a dwarf and the trials of their relationship....Got few other stories besides, and didn't really feel I got to know either of the main characters until near the end.
I dunno if it's the translation or what, but this was just a little too elliptical, a little too suggestive, and a little too... thin for my taste. After being promised a fat woman and a dwarf, I just felt let down. But that may be because I was spoiled by Katherine Dunn's fantastic Geek Love.
Mert Tuzer
Çizgi gibi gözler, mahremi görüp görmediği belli olmayan Be-Ce, belki bir cüce, kadın.

Çirkinler çirkini, güzeller güzeli, minibüste alnındaki damla damla terle başa çıkmaya çalışan bir kadın, bir adam-kömürlük ve kız.

mahrem: gözünüzün gördüğü, dilinizin şahit olmadığı.
Elena Di
I really, really didn't like it. Too rich, too heavy to enjoy, like an extremely fatty lasagna dish!
At times compelling, at other times much too whimsical.
"Her daim kendi sonunun peşi sıra gider zaman. Ve bu sebepten işte, eninde sonunda, her uçan balon patlar ve gün gelir, her sır kendini gammazlar."

Elif Şafak'ın özlediğimiz günlerinden, görmek ve görülmek üzerine bir güzelleme. Sanırım Kara Kitap gibi bir güzelliğin hemen arkasından okumasam beş yıldız da verebilirdim, ama o kadar iyisini gördükten hemen sonra, ancak bu kadarı koptu gönlümden.
nedense beni çok derinden etkilemişti okuduğumda. insanlara, dünyaya, çevremize, detaylara dahi ne kadar yüzeysel baktığımızı bir kez daha suratımıza çarptığı için mi bilmem... bitirdikten sonra haftalarca etkisinden kurtulamamış, hala kendimce hesaplamalar içerisine girmiş, yorumlar yapıp, takılı kaldığım konuları düşünmüştüm...
May El Masri
"Time didn't proceed in a straight line from yesterday, through today, and into the future. Sometimes it went forwards and sometimes it went backwards; sometimes it walked and sometimes it stood still; it staggered about drunkenly." just like that the story had no straight line to go through; no beginning, middle, end. The author took both ends of the threads and tied the story into one complete circle, a circle full of wonder, addressing the human nature to gaze and to judge, to dissect every s ...more
Bin bir gece masalları gibi ama edebi yanı da kuvvetli bir masal , hani yazarını bilmeden okusam Elif Şafak yazmış olabilir bunu derim açıkçası ...Bir de Elif Şafak , tam bir ucubeler sirki sahnelemiş gibi ; bazı karakterler rüyama girmese iyidir.
I didn't get it.

I kept waiting for some realization to sweep over me after I finished this book. It didn't.
And after reading other reviews, I find that many people had the same issue.
The concept was interesting enough, with the relationship between an obese, unnamed protagonist (was she even the protagonist..?) and a dwarf.
There's also a freak show story line.
It was all too much to pack into the 200-something pages of this book. And I didn't really get the message of perception others did. It j
While certainly interesting, The Gaze is not the masterpiece that The Bastard of Istanbul is. While the latter explored the minds of its characters in depth, the only character who receives this treatment in The Gaze is the nameless fat woman who narrates some chapters. Personally, I would have found it interesting to see Shafak explore the inner lives of some of the carnival performers. Those sections often dragged a bit compared to the ones about the fat woman and her lover. The Dictionary of ...more
Two tales are intertwined in The Gaze. One of a 19th century freak show created by a impresario motivated by his own deformities and a 20th century Istanbul couple (an obese woman and a dwarf) who could vary well be a freak show act themselves.

Having read most of Shafak's books, I will say THIS one could have been longer. The ending was a surprise but seemed rushed. The book never outright addresses the "I'm looking at you - looking at me" angle. While the couple desired privacy, they were more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Not as outstanding as her other novels!
Jennifer Abdo
It was interesting to think about how different people see and are affected by being seen through the extreme contrast of the main characters.

"The widow met a caterpillar on the road. ‘Will you be my secret love?’ she asked him. ‘Why keep it a secret?’ asked the caterpillar. ‘If someone’s in love with me I want everyone to see her love. Then I’ll be thought less ugly.’ For a while, the widow watched the caterpillar gnaw on the leaves. Then she locked the whole wide world on the ugly caterpillar
I admit I have a black or white relationship with Elif Shafak's book, I do adore them or I dislike them. This one I disliked. Both the female character and her lover are not well developed, placing the gazes as the only one important thing in all the narration. Along with the story development, the female character becomes more and more banal, especially about the causes of her bulimia, and the male ones seems to be randomly placed in the background, so as the freak show protagonists.
Enchanting. Three stories permeate: one consisting of two Istanbul lovers, one a hugely obese woman who shrinks from people's stares and wishes she could retreat forever far from others' eyes, the other a midget who defiantly meets those same stares head on and acts out in spite of them. Their interaction and the other two stories of the power of the gaze is captivating.
This books needs a trigger warning for sexual abuse of a child. It is not a prominent part of the story, but quite shocking. Still worth reading, in my opinion.

The writing is lovely, and the situations provacotive. I empathized deeply with the characters and felt their hurt. The stories blend together in unusual ways and carried the theme in unexpected ways.

Farida El-gueretly
One of my favorite books written by Shafak so far. Such a rich read, I just finished it and want to read it all over again.
Godelief Ginneberge
Ik had gewaarschuwd moeten zijn door het citaat uit the Economist op de kaft: 'Shafak heeft alles in zich om de plaats van Pamuk in te nemen als de belangrijkster romanschrijver van Turkije'. Het boek was een harde noot om te kraken....
Kübra Eryurt
Truly, I can describe the whole story as fascinating and fantastic. Loved each page, found my self lost within time and place. Why then, figured every character in my mind and let them play the text.
I highly recommend it.
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  • Üç Aynalı Kırk Oda
  • Sinek Isırıklarının Müellifi
  • Bir Düğün Gecesi
  • Füreya
  • Yenişehir'de Bir Öğle Vakti
  • Efrâsiyâb'ın Hikâyeleri
  • Gülünün Solduğu Akşam
  • Night
  • Memed, My Hawk (İnce Memed, #1)
  • Kuyucaklı Yusuf
  • Bütün Şiirleri
  • Korkuyu Beklerken
  • Serenad
  • Cevdet Bey ve Oğulları
  • Bir Gün Tek Başına
  • Saatleri Ayarlama Enstitüsü
  • İstanbullular
Elif Shafak was born in Strasbourg, France, in 1971. She is an award-winning novelist and the most widely read woman writer in Turkey. Critics have named her as “one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary Turkish and world literature”. Her books have been translated into more than 40 languages and she was awarded the honorary distinction of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters.
More about Elif Shafak...
The Forty Rules of Love The Bastard of Istanbul Honor The Flea Palace The Saint of Incipient Insanities

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“Bazen... böyle birdenbire yaralanıveririz. Ama her yara iyileşir. Eninde sonunda kabuk bağlar, üstünü kapatır. Gözlerden saklanır. Çünkü hiçbir yara görülmek istemez. Yeter ki bu yara gözbebeklerine çıkmasın. Çünkü eğer gözbebeklerin yaralanırsa, bir daha asla aynı gözle bakamazsın dünyaya. Baktığın her şeyin kötü yanını görmeye başlarsın. Saklı kalmış pislikler bile kaçmaz gözlerinden. Öteki insanlar da hisseder artık aynı şeyleri görmediğini ve artık onları sevmediğini. Rahatsız olurlar. Onlar da bir daha aynı gözle bakamaz sana. Bu yüzden kimse seni yakınında görmek istemez. Resim aynı resimdir aslında, değişen senin gözlerindir. Eğer sen çıkarsan resimden, her şey eskisi gibi kalır, herkes rahat eder. Şahsen bence en iyisi, gitmektir böyle durumlarda. Üstüne üstüne gitmek. İnadına!” 9 likes
“Geçmiş, bugün ve gelecek... hepsini peşpeşe dizip, dümdüz bir çizgi çiziyoruz. Bu yüzden geçmişin geçip gittiğine, geleceğin henüz gelmediğine inanıyoruz. Ve en kötüsü, zamanı önceden çizdiğimiz bu dümdüz çizgide yürümeye mecbur tutuyoruz. Ama belki de o burnunun ucunu göremeyecek kadar sarhoştur. Keşke zaman hiç ayılmasa. Düz çizgide dümdüz yürümeyi bir türlü başaramasa. Keşke hep yalpalasa, saçmalasa,parçalasa. Biz de bakıp bakıp, yaptıklarını kınasak ve bir daha hiçbir şeyimizi ona havale etmeye kalkmasak.” 3 likes
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