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Summary

Shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2019

Brought to you by Penguin.

'In the first minute following her death, 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....'

Our brains stay active for 10 minutes after our heart stops beating. For Leila, each minute brings with it a new memory: growing up with her father and his wives in a grand old house in a quiet Turkish town; watching the women gossip and wax their legs while the men went to mosque; sneaking cigarettes and Western magazines on her way home from school; running away to Istanbul to escape an unwelcome marriage; falling in love with a student who seeks shelter from a riot in the brothel where she works. 

Most importantly, each memory reminds Leila of the five friends she met along the way - friends who are now desperately trying to find her.... 

©2019 Elif Shafak (P)2019 Penguin Books Ltd

What listeners say about 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World

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Simply outstanding

This book describes Leila and her life in the last 10 minutes 38 seconds, whilst her brain is finally shutting down, after she is murdered, by just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The descriptions of Istanbul are so full and exotic that you feel immersed in its culture and rhythms. Leila is a nice gentle soul who has had a bit of a poor start in life mainly due to being a girl born into a Muslim family. She made a few poor decisions along the way like we all do, but had to bear the consequences in ways most of us do not.

As I mentioned earlier the descriptive narrative of this book is wonderful, some parts are like a diarrhea of adjectives, but not in a way that is trying too hard or spoiling anything the story

This book tackles the serious topic of dying, the short but bitter sweet life of Leila, those she comes into contact with who shape her life and theirs with a sensitivity that makes you feel many emotions.

However it was the last part of the book that switched the tempo into, I can only say comical proportions and had me giggling like a school girl. I did not think a book so literary in parts could do that, but it did.

First class narration by Alix Dunmore to make this a truly 5 star book

9 people found this helpful

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Life of strangers in a strange world

this book depicts the life of outcasts, outposts from their own society. Life to outcasts is significantly more challenging c compared to people who seem to fit in in everyday; hence outcasts find comfort in other outcasts. This book describes the beautiful friendship of people who found it difficult to fit in in their society, and the kind of life they had to live as a consequent to this. Whilst listening to this book, every single character became a friend of mine, I found myself as an observer who wanted to be a part of this story. The story is captivating, the characters true to real life, and the detail in descriptions mesmerising.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Istanbul life

Joy and tragedy interspersed with views of the Bosphorus . For me a helter skelter ride of emotional intensity and bitter truth read perfectly by someone who must have witnessed the events described.

6 people found this helpful

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Severely underwhelming

(1) I really wanted to like this book but unfortunately it was shocking to find it on the Booker prize long list now that I’ve read it. I feel like Elif Shafak’s success in recognition arenas is a byproduct of success from earlier and better stories she’s written. Now her success is a byproduct of the idolisation culture that plagues celebrities including in the writer sphere.
(2) I did like the construct of the story with the concept that a human brain still has activity 10 minutes after death and there were some moving parts to this story but overall it fell flat for me.
(3) The author is known to be an activist for minority rights. This is all well and good but it felt like she’d written this book with a checklist of all minorities that are “on trend” these days. Let’s throw in a transgender, a homosexual, child abuse, obesity, refugee, Marxist ideological young man, disabilities, prostitution, depression. It’s very cliché and the stories of the minorities are connected in a very inauthentic way. It just doesn’t come across believable or smooth.
(4) The author’s secularism and disdain for Turkish conservatism and Islam is also apparent in the book in spades. I also found this off-putting and felt it demonstrated an insincerity in how she used her characters to put forth her ideologies. It was very difficult to separate author from characters in her book despite her desperation to constantly argue otherwise in media.
(5) The ending really drags on. Forgettable shallow characters, unfortunately nothing properly lifts off in this novel and you are left wanting (not more).

4 people found this helpful

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lovely tale - heartwarming and tragic i

lovely tale of enduring friendship
really well narrated
couldn't wait for my bus journeys to listen

3 people found this helpful

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Tragic and heartwarming in equal measure

It’s a tale of human cruelty, the perverse nature of religion driven harm but most of all a story of friendship and kindness that can overcome. Loved every minute of it.

2 people found this helpful

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Gripping and wonderfully uplifting

Absolutely loved the story, it was gripping, sad and uplifting all at once. Also very much enjoyed the narrator's voice

2 people found this helpful

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Exceptional storytelling and tangible descriptions

An original concept, beautifully told. It's made me want to visit Istanbul, for better or for worse.

2 people found this helpful

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Urban Istanbul mystery

Elif Shafak weaves a story through the Turlish countryside to the harsh streets of Istanbul. We experience the struggle to survive and be an individual through the experiences of different characters.

2 people found this helpful

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Brilliant story

So sad to have finished this book ,it was amazing .
A tale of friendship at it’s best and the story of a woman ,Leila who we get to know in flashbacks after her death .
It is lyrical and poignant with some comedic turns .
Finally I have to mention the excellent narration which capped it all off wonderfully .A must read .

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 30-03-20

lovely book

I loved this book, since I love turkey. it is quite dramatic, I actually shed tears over an event that happened. I finished it in three days.

1 person found this helpful

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  • AnahitaAnahita
  • 28-12-19

To the women of Istanbul and the city of Istanbul

As Shafak herself says, read stories written by women. You'll know when you read it. Highly recommended.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 27-11-19

I keep listening and re-listening!

I am breathless. I have been a fan of Elif Shafak for long, and clearly that's not about to change any time soon. You should buy this. It's worth every dollar!
The reading is perfect, the story a sad nectar, and the writing is plainly gorgeous.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Neelam
  • 03-10-19

A touching story of friendship and belonging

I loved the title of the book and the entire story was remarkable and entertaining.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-06-19

Amazing story

Great narrator delivering a breathaking story, I enjoyed very much! Couldn't stop listening to the end

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-08-21

Thoroughly enjoyable!

Interesting depiction of the harsh realities of life in the backwaters of Istanbul narrated through vivid and sharp characters. Not Shafak's best work though.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 31-07-21

Fantastic!

The best book I've heard on Audible! This story has everything - colourful characters, gripping plot and vibrant setting. Í would give 5+ stars fór Alix Dunmore's narration - it's by far the best narration I have heard on Audible!

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  • AJ
  • 27-04-21

Absolutely captivating

I didn’t want to stop this story. It moved me to tears, had me laugh out loud, made me yearn for my many travels to Istanbul and the stories and life found lurking around each hidden corner there. An absolutely wonderful book, and I’m so glad I listened to the audio version, with such a beautiful performance.