Category Archives: Viking
10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World by Elif Shafak
‘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…’
For Leila, each minute after her death brings a sensuous memory: the taste of spiced goat stew, sacrificed by her father to celebrate the long-awaited birth of a son; the sight of bubbling vats of lemon and sugar which the women use to wax their legs while the men attend mosque; the scent of cardamom coffee that Leila shares with a handsome student in the brothel where she works. Each memory, too, recalls the friends she made at each key moment in her life – friends who are now desperately trying to find her. . .
I cannot believe that this is my first review of a book written by one of our foremost critically acclaimed female writers of our time in Elif Shafak. After reading her latest novel set in the bustling city of Istanbul. 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World is just breath-taking.
10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World is in fact the last moments of the life of Tequila Leila’s life. These are her dying moments and each one a memory.
Tequila was a prostitute and her body has been dumped within the city and left to die. It is during these last moments of her life that she recalls her own past in flashbacks to her childhood and growing up, her family and the tastes and the smells of the Istanbul. But also her five friends that gave her the life and also peace of mind. Through these last minutes we see these friends that became close to Tequila they like her were surviving as only they knew how. They left the families and made their own lives. Living from one day to another they had created their own unique community looking out for one another. Each one is different and it is down to the reader to find one that you become fond of. I became attached to all of them just because they were so supportive of each other. I just warmed to their individual lifestyles.
Now I know why so many people love and totally respect the writing of Elif Shafak, only Elife can bring a story set in Turkey and breathe such life into such a story. There are of course many sad moments that will leave you asking many questions but there are some moments of real humanity and warmth. This is the story of Tequila Leila’s life and how she met her death. Leila is strong and this really comes across in this simply magnificent novel. Istanbul is vibrant and colourful. Her friends are bereft and devastated at the loss of their friend and cannot give her the burial she deserves. I am now a fan of Elif Shafak and will be seeking out further novels in the future.
For more information on Elif Shafak: http://www.elifsafak.com.tr/
Twitter: @Elif_Safak; Instagram @shafakelif
Thank you to Viking Books UK for the review copy of 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World by Elif Shafak
10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange Worldby Elif Shafak is published by Viking UK and was published on 6th June 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
Gone: a Girl, a Violin, a Life Unstrung by Min Kym
This is the story of a child prodigy in her own words a story of a love for music and composers and a love for a very rare Violin. When Min Kym was given a cheap violin at the age of six little did her parents realise what was to come next. Now Min Kym has released her memoir Called Gone: a Girl, a Violin, a Life Unstrung.
At the age of 7 Min Kym was a child prodigy and within a few years she went on to win international awards for playing the Violin, the stage was set for this extremely talented musician. Here in this deeply moving memoir she openly talks about love and loss Min Kym through the pages of this her early life from South Korea to London and then a rare 1696 Stradivarius which became her soul mate it was as if it was truly made for her, fitted Min and was the perfect match for her. Surely her life was set and everything she had worked so hard for was at her very fingertips add a boyfriend and life is complete. Or is it?
One day while waiting for a train they sat together in the station cafe her precious Violin sat beside them before she realised what had happened it had gone. The 1696 Stradivarius Violin valued at over £1m was stolen in broad daylight. To Min this was totally devastating something inside her died. Her life seemed in an instant devoid of meaning. To a classical musician the bond between them and their instrument is unique it transcends almost anything. Unless you are close to a classical musician you may not realise the bond they have. No to Min Kym that bond was broken and she fell into a non-existent land where she could not function let alone perform. This is brave writing, it is straight from the heart telling of loss and depression she also openly talks of her boyfriend as she seems to mistrust as he is controlling. This was the very boyfriend who was minding the rare Violin at the time it was stolen.
Min Kym is driven to be successful and her passion for music pours out of every page as well as her grief, how she describes her life and her feelings is so emotional. There is real open honesty captured between the pages here as she openly talks about her own mistakes in her life. It could be that part of the healing process was writing her memoir and pouring her own grief out on paper.
This is highly recommended for those that love music and those who want to understand someone who is passionate about being the best at what she does at playing the Violin.
To accompany the book, look out for a special CD by Min Kym Gone – The Album which is available now.
Thank you to Viking UK for the advanced review copy.
Gone: a Girl, a Violin, a Life Unstrung by Min Kym is published by Viking UK and is published today 6th April 2017 and available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
A story of a complex relationship between a mother and daughter. Does a book get better than this?
From page one you are pulled into a story line that is just so beautifully written that you do not want to let go until you have finished reading the entire novel and at around 200 pages this is easily done as you lose yourself in an exquisite story.
In My Name is Lucy Barton the story is set in the mid 1980’s we find the Lucy hospitalised and this is her story as she recounts the period of nearly nine weeks in hospital from complications after recent surgery.
It is clear from the very start this is going to be a tender recount of a troubled childhood and then to her present day marital problems, not helped with the fact that her husband has an aversion to hospitals and has secretly arranged for her mother to come and stay with her, as we find through the pages of a childhood bereft of love from her mother, with whom she has not seen for a number of years, we find Lucy waking one morning to find her mother standing at the foot of her bed. Disbelief, shock even at seeing her estranged mother standing there.
For the coming days and nights as her mother who seems to be in constant state of a form of depression Lucy recounts her younger days and the family, friends and failed relationships even those of her friends and the sheer desperation of the loneliness of her formative years, deprived of such things as books and television this part of her life is nothing short of tragic.
Despite the fact that mother and daughter have not met in many years, her mother starts to recount tales and there is a difference in her tone that Lucy seeks to explore yet the longing for the words ‘I love you’ fail to appear even at a time that her daughter so desperately needs to hear it, her mother just falls into denial of the past. As the reader becomes more sucked into the hospital room, you can almost feel that her mother wants to say all the things that she never said, as in ‘I love you’ but the words seem to chock her and the words never appear. Lucy is something of a writer and tells her mother about the fact she had a few stories published but her mother just ignores and stares out of the window where Chrysler Building glimmers to a world that Lucy cannot escape to but you get the feeling it is calling to Lucy, but she is trapped in that hospital room, it was those years as a child with no books that led Lucy to want to write books to prevent anyone from feeling the sheer loneliness that she endured.
There is something else going on here and Strout is offering glimpses at our own world and our own lives I felt that as an author Strout was offering counselling to everyone reading it. This is writing of a very special quality and of a writer at the height of her game. There are some very special qualities that come of My Name is Lucy Barton. Everyone wants to be loved and you can’t help but feel empathy with Lucy as she just wants to be loved by her mother as much as she loves her. A book that will be revisited time after time.
Strout has written a deeply emotional and powerful story in My Name is Lucy Barton a story of the complex relationship between mother and daughter and also of love. Elizabeth Strout being a previous winner of the Pulitzer Prize for her novel Olive Kitteridge in 2009 and now is longlisted for the 2016 Baileys Prize. Just a word on the cover design. Simple and effective and it works.
My Name is Lucy Barton written by Elizabeth Strout was published 4 February 2016 by Viking. Available through Waterstones and all good bookshops.