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The Saint of Incipient Insanities

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  3,001 ratings  ·  110 reviews
The Saint of Incipient Insanities is the comic and heartbreaking story of a group of twenty-something friends, and their never-ending quest for fulfillment.

Omer, Abed and Piyu are roommates, foreigners all recently arrived in the United States. Omer, from Istanbul, is a Ph.D. student in political science who adapts quickly to his new home, and falls in love with the bisex
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published October 1st 2004 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2004)
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Jerzy Kozłowski Interestingly, the book was originally written in English like the recent Architect's Apprentice. Its English title is The Saint of Incipient Insaniti…moreInterestingly, the book was originally written in English like the recent Architect's Apprentice. Its English title is The Saint of Incipient Insanities.(less)

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Average rating 3.69  · 
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 ·  3,001 ratings  ·  110 reviews

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Aug 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Well, maybe it's because I am a Turkish student going to college in the United States myself, but I adored this book. The language is not as good as The Bastard of Istanbul; in some points it looks like Elif Safak is a student who just learned some SAT words and using them to show off. Yet of course, this is irrelevant for me, as I fell in love with all the characters of the book and identified myself especially with Omer, the main character. This novel expresses the feeling of "in between"ness ...more
Jan 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
See, the thing is that for me, when a book's main character measures the time in his life by the amount of times he's listened to a song (esp. a good song), I tend to fall in love with him a little. It's sort of the same for me when a main character is a photographer. And when you fall in love with a main character, you end up thinking more highly of the book involved and forget that it's a work of fiction because it seems so real. Then, you have to consider that if every work of ficti ...more
Mar 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2014
I loved the 2 chapters about Istanbul and I think it saved the book. Anyway the last 100 pages are better than the rest. Not the best book by E.S.
Dustyn Hessie
In the future I will write an in-depth blog about why this is one of the most amazing novels I've ever read. As for anyone who is torn between whether they should read this or not, I'll be the first to tell you that it is not a novel for everyone.

There are some bold choices of english language usage in this novel: most notably the wide range of "said" substitutes (which I think is brilliant); "cheeped Alegre, "Abed croaked," and the like. There are also several parts where the narrator (via Ome
★★★★✰ 3.5 stars (rounded up to 4 just for kicks)

“Lovers are pathetically charming, and exceedingly full of themselves, itself more precisely, for one of the plentiful troubles with loving couples is that the minute two autonomous selves develop themselves into a duo, instead of "two" (as in one plus one), they somehow become "zero" (as in one minus one). Likewise, before anyone could follow up, Ömar and Gail had germinated into a totality.”

Established fans of Elif Shafak should be wary of The Sa
Jun 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I cannot help but enjoy this book. This is perhaps one of the most enjoyable reads that I have had in the recent past. I never thought that this book would be a good one, and thus I have prolonged touching it until I realized that I had to return the book soon to the library, but once I started it, it was just a non-stop awesome read.

So, what is this about? This book is about a group of twenty-somethings who come from all over the world. It is set in Boston, and the characters are mostly interna
Jun 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
"There was nothing more depressing in life, she deduced, than being obliged to have fun."
"Still he could sense a dose of an obscure, quashed resentment in the tones of most; a resentment that those left behind tend for feel for the one who has gone."
"After all, native speakers enjoy hearing those teeny tiny imprecisions that the former produce as if there were money in it. Seldom do they intevene, and when they do, it is too often with an affectionate vigilance like parents taking joy in the mi
Anca Danciu
Apr 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started this one about 3 times. I have OCD, so once I start a book, I need to finish it. I am glad I did. I was not a big fan in the beginning, but I loved it after all.
I think reading is about self discovery. I hit my inner wall of avoiding people found of drinking or anything alcohol related and the book starts with the too drunk Omer.
I loved the diversity of those multi-cultural characters. I embraced Gail's obsessions and maniacal- depressive tendencies.
If I ever adopt cats, I will name
Aug 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is how I met with Elif Shafak. It was definitely what I needed to read when I read it 5 years ago. It is about identities, being a foreigner, being a foreign student, about the sense of belonging, life struggless. I have read like 6-7 Elif Shafak books after this one, and it is still my favorite (OK I did enjoy the forty rules of love, but I don't know how much original it is, and it is way too commercialized)... ...more
Oct 18, 2012 rated it liked it
I enjoyed the ruminations of the international cast of characters on the immigrant experience / experience of foreign students in America. There were some cute bits about the comforts of speaking with another non-native English speaker, the significance of a name to one's identity, cultural sensitivity and the insecurities people have about their countrymen and country as well as themselves. The characters have problems and are essentially misfits and thrown together through strange circumstance ...more
Apr 03, 2007 rated it really liked it
I read this pretty quickly on a flight. While it addresses several of the issues about the class, identity, and the multidimensionality of Turkish culture that one might find in a book by Orhan Pamuk, it's very nice in the sense that it uses light, often charming character-driven to hit the points home. Only major critique is that there are too many sub-stories going on at one time, which is to be expected given the plot. ...more
She was at the zenith of her moods lately, which also meant she was standing on the verge of falling down. A fleeting stage of incipient insanity. p336

If the whole world today seems to be teetering on the edge of incipient insanity, how much more precarious is the situation of those who have had to leave their homes and their homeland who have not yet been able to establish themselves in a place where they can grow.

Who is the real stranger? p350

In this early work LS has given us complex charact
Erkan Saka
International graduate student dramas in the US.
Alexandra Nitu
May 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Atharv G.
Dec 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: turkey, boston
Overall, this was a delight to read. The story was surprisingly humorous, due largely in part to Shafak's clever writing style. She infuses philosophy, linguistic discussion, wordplay, and so much more into the narrative that really kept me wanting to read more. And of course, the characters were so vividly portrayed, and their relationships with each other were so well constructed. Being a story with little to no plot, the story focuses intensely on the characters' evolving relationships and th ...more
Sep 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
I started this book thinking that it will mostly be about how people living in a foreign country feel like they are in purgatory. You don’t feel like you completely belong to this new place, but you get detached from your home country as well. So you belong nowhere, which also gives you a freedom to belong to everywhere too. Because once you leave, leaving again gets easier.
However, I loved how the book made me realize that this purgatory feeling can happen to other people who have not even left
Ryan Houck
Aug 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reread
Idiocyncracies abound. "How strange! thought Piyu. How stupid! thought Abed. And Ömer thought: How lovely!" (255).
I like how Shafak cerebrates life. Catalogues. Zanny characters. Circling themes. She challenges identity politics and critical theories. I reread this book to see if I could teach it. I enjoyed the second read; however, cutting a few tangents would streamline the text for students.
The manifold perspectives of this quote reminds me of The Dubloon chapter in Moby Dick. Deconstruction
Jul 23, 2010 is currently reading it
So far, so good. Found the same long but not too complicated phrasing as what I knew her style was like from "The Bastard of Istanbul". The same pleasure for building the characters (something that attracts me) and the phrases as well, that reminded me of the oriental patterns in everything (from stories to traditional art). I'm curious whether she can make you feel the immigrants world just as she made me feel Istanbul as a very complex and alive city. ...more
Alina Brohanschi
Apr 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: de_langa_pat
Elif Shafak seems to write for me because most of my troubled youth is reflected by her characters. Issues like loneliness, being away from your hometown and constantly feeling like a stranger, and also the incapacity to integrate are the main focus of her books. Starting from this she builds emotional stories, filled with exotic descriptions of Istanbul and its people.
Lucine Van Stappen Gevorgyan
Jun 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Typical Elif Shafak book where everything is connected with each other in a complicated cobweb of life. The Saint of Incipient Insanities is full of humor and philosophy and gives a wonderful depiction of the emotions of a person who finds himself in a foreign space. Her virtuous writing style is what makes me want to read more of her books.

Aug 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautifully written book, about a group of young foreigners from different corners of the world, finding themselves as they try to adapt to life in the USA.

I absolutely loved this book and the small philosophies and language analysis Elif Shafak goes into.

Here is my full video-review of this book:
Aug 18, 2009 rated it liked it
I was delighted by this book in the beginning. The author has a creative and playful way with words, and I loved all of Shafak's little details about life as an expatriate.

But then I got bored and started asking the question, "so what?"
Jan 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can not decide which one is my favorite book of Elif Shafak but this one is a strong candidate in this competition. Especially last pages of the book was amazing. After finish the book, you need some time to get back to real world. Really liked it.
Mar 21, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Many layers that I loved and found close to myself: being immigrant, having dots on names.

Loved parts about Zarpandit's change while writing responses and spooning all letters.

Yet, ending of committing suicide on Bosphorus bridge was a bit too easy to predict..
サラ サラ
May 22, 2014 rated it did not like it
Absolute disappointment!! Well, I have read some books of Elif Shafak and naturally expected something good but this book hardly has couple of chapters good enough, rest is sheer crap. Waste of time and money both!
Young college students from all over the world share an apartment in East Somerville (Pearl St.) They and some Americans make unlikely friends, have unlikely parties, and eat unlikely food. They find love, they lose love. In short, they muddle through life like most 20-somethings.
Jul 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book and its characters. It takes place in Boston with a group of graduate students from around the globe. Fast, enjoyable read.
Aug 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing
About a guy finding himself and becoming his own person despite the pressure from his foreign parents to stay true to their culture.
This is the best book I've read in quite a while. ...more
Feb 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
Just couldn't finish it since seemed to drag ...more
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Elif Shafak is an award-winning British-Turkish novelist and the most widely read female author in Turkey. She writes in both Turkish and English, and has published seventeen books, eleven of which are novels. Her work has been translated into fifty languages. Shafak holds a PhD in political science and she has taught at various universities in Turkey, the US and the UK, including St Anne's Colleg ...more

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