Elif Shafak

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Elif Shafak

Award-winning novelist and the most widely read woman writer in Turkey

Elif Shafak is an award-winning novelist and the most widely read woman writer in Turkey. She is recognised as "one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary Turkish and world literature". Her books have been published in more than forty countries and she was awarded the honorary distinction of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters.

Shafak has published thirteen books, nine of which are novels. She writes fiction in both Turkish and English. She blends Western and Eastern traditions… 

Elif Shafak is an award-winning novelist and the most widely read woman writer in Turkey. She is recognised as "one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary Turkish and world literature". Her books have been published in more than forty countries and she was awarded the honorary distinction of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters.

Shafak has published thirteen books, nine of which are novels. She writes fiction in both Turkish and English. She blends Western and Eastern traditions of storytelling, bringing out the myriad stories of women, minorities, immigrants, subcultures, youth and global souls. Her work draws on diverse cultures and literary traditions, as well as deep interest in history, philosophy, Sufism, oral culture, and cultural politics. Shafak's writing breaks down categories, clichés, and cultural ghettoes, and she also has a keen eye for black humour.

Shafak's first novel, Pinhan (The Mystic) was awarded the "Rumi Prize" in 1998, which is given to the best work in mystical literature in Turkey. Her second novel, Sehrin Aynalan; (Mirrors of the City), brings together Jewish and Islamic mysticism against a historical setting in the 17th century Mediterranean.

Shafak greatly increased her readership with her novel Mahrem (The Gaze), which earned her the "Best Novel-Turkish Writers' Union Prize" in 2000. Her next novel, Bit Palas (The Flea Palace), has been a bestseller in Turkey and was shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.

Shafak' wrote her next novel in English. The Saint of Incipient Insanities was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Her second novel written in English is The Bastard of Istanbul, which was the bestselling book of 2006 in Turkey and was long listed for the Orange prize. The novel, which tells the story of an Armenian and a Turkish family through the eyes of women, brought Shafak under prosecution but the charges were ultimately dismissed.

Following the birth of her daughter in 2006 Shafak experienced a long post-natal depression, a phase she addressed in her first autobiographical book, Black Milk, with striking candour and sharp humour. In this book Shafak explored the beauties and difficulties of being a writer and a mother in a patriarchal society. The book was received with great interest and acclaim by critics and readers alike, being an instant bestseller.

Shafak's next novel focused on the intricate ways of Love, East & West, past & present, spiritual & mundane, all in the light of Rumi and Shams of Tabriz. The Forty Rules of Love sold more than 750,000 copies, becoming an all time best-seller in Turkey. In France it was awarded the Prix ALEF - Mention Spéciale Littérature Etrangère.

Besides writing fiction, Shafak is an active political commentator, columnist and public speaker. She is a regular contributor to major newspapers in Turkey and has been featured in major newspapers and periodicals, including the Washington Times, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, The Economist and The Guardian website. She has taught at various universities in Turkey, UK and USA. Having graduated from the program in International Relations at Middle East Technical University, she holds a Masters degree in Gender and Women's Studies and a Ph.D. in Political Science. Her thesis on "Islamic Mysticism and the Circular Understanding of Time" was awarded by the Social Scientists Institute.

Elif's Books Include: 

• Honour

• Black Milk – On Writing, Motherhood and the Harem Within

• The Gaze

• The Flea Palace

• The Bastard of Istanbul

• The Happiness of Blond People – A Personal Meditation on The Dangers of Indentity

• The Forty Rules of Love

• The Saint of Incipient Insanities

Elif's Topics Include: 

• the art of storytelling

• bridging the gap between East & West

• Global souls versus national frontiers 

• women's issues 

• diversity & mutliculturalism

• Sufism/mysticism

• innovation/creativity in today's world

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Elif Shafak - The view from Taksim Square: why is Turkey now in turmoil?

Article for The Guardian

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Latest News

The London Book Fair Announces Elif Shafak as Market Focus Author of the Day

The London Book Fair Announces Elif Shafak as Market Focus Author of the Day

The London Book Fair (LBF) announced acclaimed novelist Elif Shafak… read more

Elif Shafak's latest book

Elif Shafak's latest book

Elif Shafak's latest book… read more

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