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10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World

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4.08  ·  Rating details ·  18,968 ratings  ·  2,792 reviews
An intensely powerful new novel from the best-selling author of The Bastard of Istanbul and Honour.

'In the first minute following her death, Tequila Leila's consciousness began to ebb, slowly and steadily, like a tide receding from the shore. Her brain cells, having run out of blood, were now completely deprived of oxygen. But they did not shut down. Not right away...'

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Paperback, International Edition, 320 pages
Published June 6th 2019 by Viking
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Amy Lenzo This whole book was Queer in the broadest sense of the word as it was about people living outside social norms (like Coral says in her response). But …moreThis whole book was Queer in the broadest sense of the word as it was about people living outside social norms (like Coral says in her response). But much of the actual narrative was also centred on LBGT characters. LOVED this book.(less)
Emily Buckley The fish is actually a betta, so it will be a link to the one that was released when Leila was born & meets again once her body is “laid to rest”.…moreThe fish is actually a betta, so it will be a link to the one that was released when Leila was born & meets again once her body is “laid to rest”.(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.08  · 
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 ·  18,968 ratings  ·  2,792 reviews


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Elyse  Walters
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finished this book a few days ago....( haven’t read any reviews yet)....and it’s unusual for me to wait 3 days before writing a review.
Have you ever felt you have so much to say - you don’t know whet to begin?
Ha...perhaps there’s a club for people like us?
It’s a fantastic discussion book!!!
Well, I’m on vacation - aware of holiday-distractions - but this is a book I’d personally love to engage with others to discuss.

Perhaps if I bang my head against the wall - the right words at the right t
...more
Nat K

"To the women of Istanbul, and the city of Istanbul, which is, and has always been, a she-city"

I love that this is Elif Shafak's dedication for her book. It is oh-so-apt.

Many, many reviewers have spoken of the significance of the book's title both in depth & eloquently. So I'll not re-visit its' significance.

What I will say is reading this was extremely emotive. A squeeze to the heart.

This is Leila's story. And one that you should read. She recounts memories of her life, from her birth, to a you
...more
Marchpane
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-releases
10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World is all that remains in the life of Tequila Leila, a sex worker who has been murdered, her body unceremoniously dumped in a wheelie bin in Istanbul.

As her brain shuts down, Leila recalls her life in its entirety. These recollections – covering one woman’s life from birth to death, the family who disowned her and the friends who came to be her greatest support, against a backdrop of key moments in Turkish history – form Part One: The Mind.

In Part T
...more
Beata
Aug 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you read the synopsis of the plot, you may think it sounds strange and rather unappealing ... While reading the novel, you will feel emotionally exhausted and at the same time you will recall what friendship means, the friendship Leila was continually offered even after her brain shut down completely and her soul left her body.
Leyla, her group of friends and Istanbul and the main protagonists, and the worlds are of different nature, the individualism versus the strict rules imposed by the soc
...more
Nadia - on a break
Pleased to see this made the Booker Prize 2019 longlist!

Elif Shafak is a bestselling novelist known for her stories of strong female characters, immigrants and minorities. She follows this trend in her latest novel '10 Minutes and 38 Seconds in This Strange World' depicting a story of Leila. Leila, known as Tequila Leila, is a prostitute in Istanbul who is killed at the start of the book and her body ends up in a rubbish dump. After being physically dead, Leila's brain remains active for another
...more
Bianca
Even before I read this novel, I was surprised to see it on the Man Booker longlist based solely on my experience reading Shafak's - The Three Daughters of Eve, which I enjoyed, but found imperfect.

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World has a good title and a somewhat original premise - as it's told, in the first part anyway, from the perspective of Leila, a prostitute, who's dead or dying, so she's got 10 minutes and 38 seconds before her brain has no activity. The author uses this device
...more
Meike
Jul 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: turkey, uk, 2019-booker
Now Shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2019
This riveting tale has two protagonists: The women of Turkey and the city of Istanbul. Right at the beginning, we meet Leila, a prostitute who was attacked and then left to die in a metal rubbish bin on the outskirts of the city. The title-giving 10 minutes and 38 seconds are the time span in which her brain slowly shuts down, one last time re-collecting her life in numerous flashbacks - these vignettes make up the first half of the novel (and in the con
...more
Collin
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
LONGLISTED (and hopefully shortlisted) FOR THE 2019 BOOKER PRIZE.

Leila knows she is dead. Not from the fact that her body is lying in a waste bin, but from the facts that her heart is no longer beating, and her breathing has stopped. Her brain however is still, “brimming with life”.

In life Leila had been a prostitute. Tequila Leila was the name she had given herself. She was well known to the authorities and knew that they would have no trouble identifying her body once the sun came up and it wa
...more
☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~  ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣
Mindblowing.

A girl is dead. Or dying. Or dead. Or on the threshold of … A sneak peak into an entirely strange world.

We get a view on how things get results entirely different from the ones envisioned. So very many topics addressed: families, relations, identity, perception, religion and how it sometimes develops into something else, scary and foreign. This all is delivered in a package I couldn't resist. Incredible.

Q:
Her name was Leila.
Tequila Leila … (c)
Q:
she might take offence and playfully h
...more
Joanne Harris
An extraordinary novel: tender, sensual, compassionate, inclusive and steeped in atmosphere and detail, this is a love letter to Istanbul, to tolerance, to friendship. Read it now.
Nada Elshabrawy
Aug 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english, audio
Not as good as Daughters of Eve. But the life of Laila Tequila is beautifully told, as usual.
Gumble's Yard
Now shortlisted for the 2019 Booker Prize after having been re read following its longlisting - my final comment proving prescient - and with additional comments added.

The book takes its cue from research that shows (as a medical examiner in the book reflects during an autopsy) which “observed persistent brain activity in people who had died …. for as much as ten minutes and thirty-eight seconds.”

The subject of the autopsy is Leyla Akarsu, a mid-40s (albeit claiming to be ten years younger) Pera
...more
Julie Ehlers
What I'm going to remember most about 10 Minutes, 38 Seconds in This Strange World is its vivid sense of setting and character. I'm ordinarily not a fan of a lot of description, but in this case it really pulled me in, made me feel at home in Istanbul and among its people. That's not an easy thing for a writer to pull off, and it counted for a lot. The book also had an unusual structure that I initally appreciated, but eventually the structure got in the way of the story, the book began to drag, ...more
Henk
Feb 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A metaphor dense ode to outsiders and Istanbul - 4 stars
Rules are rules. Even children knew this was not true. Rules were sometimes rules. At other times, depending on the circumstances, they were empty words, absurd phrases or jokes without a punchline. Rules were sieves with holes so large that all sorts of things could pass through; rules were sticks of chewing gum that had long lost their taste but could not be spat out; rules in this country, and across the entire Middle East, were anything
...more
Paltia
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A giant note of gratitude to Collin and Nat K. for their phenomenal reviews of this book. How could anyone not want to read this after reading their thoughts?
Elif Shafak shares that researchers have observed brain activity in those who just died. Some last as long as 10 minutes and 38 seconds. What happens in this span of time? Tequila Leila connects her memories, as she lies dying in a dumpster, with scents. Her sense of smell, still present, floods her with memories of self and those of her fi
...more
Hugh
Shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2019

I will put this whole review in spoiler tags for now, so that those of you who will be discussing it face to face can avoid reading it before we meet.
Editing to remove spoiler tags after face to face discussion.

This was my first experience of reading Elif Shafak, a writer I have heard very mixed things about, but one I have seen give a fairly impressive Goldsmiths lecture last year. I was pleasantly surprised, and came quite close to awarding another book.

The
...more
Emer (A Little Haze)
This book has such moments of pure genius and honesty, and at times my heart felt so unbelievably full... However it also descended into somewhat of a farcical comedy during the course of Part Two so my feelings are very mixed.

The premise is utterly fascinating and is based on observations from a research paper published in the Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences (link here) that found an instance of brain wave activity in a person declared clinically dead for 10 minutes 38 seconds post-d
...more
Ace
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Elif Shafak is a big old romantic with a heart of gold and a rose tipped pen. She writes from the heart but speaks for those, in Istanbul, Turkey and the wider world who's voices have been muffled, silenced and go unheard and undocumented every day. In this latest offering, I see the idiosyncrasies of her past novels, mysticism and spirituality smothering the reader in their message of love and eternal life. The central setting of this story in the seventies may seem dated, but what has changed ...more
Ron Charles
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World” is a deeply humane story about the cruel effects of Turkey’s intolerant sexual attitudes. Better yet, it’s shortlisted for the Booker Prize, which, one hopes, will bring even more pressure on the Turkish government to stop harassing this immensely talented artist.

The opening of “10 Minutes” is grim. It’s 1990, and our heroine, Leila, is a prostitute stuffed in a dumpster on the outskirts of Istanbul: “She now realized with a sinking feeling that her
...more
Kathleen
Oct 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Booker Prize Longlist 2019. Shafak’s powerful novel tackling sexual violence in Turkey resulted in the Turkish authorities launching an investigation into Shafak and her work. What was their bizarre reasoning? Apparently, if a writer pens a fictional account that includes sexual violence, the writer must be condoning that violence. Does that mean that these same officials are investigating/prosecuting actual cases of sexual violence? Of course not!

The year is 1990, Laila Akarsee’s heart has just
...more
Renee Godding
5/5 stars

5 stars to this extraordinary novel, that completely swept me off my feet.
Having read some reviews by other people, I can see how it has its minor flaws, but to me personally , this book came quite close to perfection.
10 minutes and 38 seconds in this strange world is a beautifully crafted homage to a life forgotten by most, but remembered by a few close friends, that carried an important message and managed to touch me on an emotional level.

Full review to come
Alice Lippart
Jan 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2020
Fantastic characters and excellently captured setting.
Sonja Arlow
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-read


”Istanbul was not a city of opportunity but a city of scars

Istanbul was an illusion. A magician’s trick gone wrong.

Istanbul was a dream that existed solely in the minds of hashish eaters”


The book gives a birds-eye view of the outcasts of Istanbul’s society but it almost felt as if the author was using a checklist. We have a disgraced prostitute, a revolutionary, a dwarf, a transvestite, a singer, an illegal immigrant…... They felt as if they were there to represent a specific socio-economic issu
...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
A sex worker in Istanbul has been murdered, and as her brain releases her life, the reader is transported to specific memories and stories. Her life is revealed alongside five close friends (like a Turkish cast of Rent) who play a bigger role in the second half of the story.

This is on the Man Booker Prize longlist for 2019, but I must say it isn't the best book I've read by this author. Still it is quite readable and is based on an interesting structure.

I had a review copy from the publisher th
...more
Eric Anderson
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although I very much enjoyed Elif Shafak’s previous novel “Three Daughters of Eve”, I was initially hesitant to read her new novel because the subject sounded so depressing. “10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World” recounts the final thoughts of its central character Leila after she’s been murdered and left in a dumpster. Scientists speculate that the brain remains active for a number of minutes after a person’s heart stops so the first part of the novel captures her final memories and refl ...more
Paul Fulcher
In a direct rebuttal to the title of her fellow nominee Margaret Atwood's The Heart Goes Last, the central concept of Elif Shafak’s Ten Minutes Thirty Eight Seconds In This Strange World is inspired by a medical paper to the contrary published in 2017. A team of Canadian doctors observed brain wave activity, similar to that seen in people in deep sleep, in one patient, whose life support had been turned off, for 10m38s after their clinical death. (For the other three patients studied, the brain ...more
Trudie
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: booker-19
This is my first novel by Elif Shafak and I doubt it will be my last. For the most part this was an immensely enjoyable read, marred only by a wobbly change in tone in the last third.

The story of Tequila Leila read to me like a dark fairy tale morphed with the Victorian era idea of the "fallen woman". (view spoiler)
...more
Jonathan Pool
***Updated****
Evening FOLLOWING at Daunt Books, Marylebone. July 30, 2019
• The structural conceit (delayed shutdown of brain, was inspired by a Canadian study (early 2017)
• Leila’s death (The End is flagged at the very start), was a real story of a transgender death in Turkey. Dumped in a trash can. The final insult

Story of Turkey via outcasts
> Istanbul a city of amnesia.
> ES late to the city but remembers the earthquake. Tells a story of a bigoted shopkeeper who helped; for a short period we w
...more
Doug
Aug 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is a lot to admire in this portrait of an Istanbul prostitute, her friends, her untimely murder, and the aftermath of her existence. However, I never really connected with the material, the characters, nor the story, or the way it was told. The first 2/3rds is basically a straightforward account of Tequila Leila's life, broken by the interpolation of brief vignettes of the lives of her five friends. It's given something of a novel twist in that it is supposedly remembrances flashing throug ...more
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18,028 followers
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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