Elif Shafak – 10 Minutes 38 seconds in this strange world

This book was a contender for the Booker Prize 2019, and IMO it should have won. The story is genius, it begins with the death by murder of Tequila Leila, a prostitute working in Istanbul. Apparently, after our body dies our brain keeps working for about ten minutes, and that’s why Leila is able to recall her life and we get to know all about her. In the second and third parts of the novel, after her mind has died, we learn the rest of the story from her five friends (who are all outsiders in their own way), and we also get to know who committed the murder and their motive.

This is a brilliant novel, beautifully written and heart-wrenching, and it also tackles delicate issues such as the terrible Article 438 of the Turkish Penal Code, which allowed a reduced sentence for those who raped prostitutes and was abolished in 1992 thanks to the women’s movement, or the existence of the Cemetery of the Companionless, the final resting place of people who don’t have a family or have been shunned by theirs. For exposing the dark side of Turkey, the author is investigated and censored in her country. She now lives in London.