Have you ever fallen in love with a book? There is something truly magical about discovering a genuinely fantastic book. It is even more magical to find an author that writes books that you just cannot put down, the ones you stay up half the night reading. Sounds familiar, right? It is the book experience that keeps you excited, the experience you cannot wait to talk about with your friends who are, hopefully, equally obsessed with the author, story and characters as you are. I simply adore books that, once I finish reading, leave me devastated- in the best possible way, of course.
A few years ago, I got introduced to the amazing work of best-selling Turkish novelist, Elif Shafak. Her hugely successful fiction will inspire you to re-think about life, love, friendship and family. Istanbul plays an important role in her writing. The city’s contrasts- old and young, East and West, modern and traditional- inspire her to write stories that need to be told. Once stating that Istanbul is a “she-city”, she explained that “even though her femininity is constantly being threatened and suppressed, she (Istanbul) resists, just like the past does.”
Strangely, she does not write in Turkish and believes that certain feelings are easier to explain in English. She does, however, use some Turkish words in her novels that she finds intranslatable. She has a rare gift among many world authors- she makes writing appear easy. She captures your attention, heart and mind so that you cannot leave the characters she introduces you to. You must stay awake, you must take on a journey to mystical eras and mystical places and experience the emotion she conveys.
So far, she published 14 fiction novels. Although, you can never really separate the reality from fiction when it comes to authors. It is my belief she bases all of her stories on personal experience. I strongly recommend (if this is your first knowledge of Shafak) to start with a fantastic novel dedicated to Rumi, famed 13th- century Sufi mystic, poet and dervish. If you are a fan of Rumi’s poetry, this best-seller will make you understand how he became an excellent poet by knowing the person who was behind it- Shams of Tabriz.
Then, you can continue with The Architect’s Apprentice, The Bastard of Istanbul and Honor. All of these titles will surely make you wish she never stops writing.
In Arabic, elif represents the first letter of the alphabet. In Turkish, shafak means “dawn”.
In her own words, she loves: keeping and eye on what’s happening in her country, ambiguity, words, history, philosophy, the waltz of loneliness and love.
P. S. If in Sarajevo, you can find all the above mentioned titles in the local bookshop Buybook, or at their online shop HERE The covers are amazingly designed by Aleksandra Nina Knežević.