Spellbound by Elif Shafak – 5 reasons she’s one of my favourite writers

Elif Shafak – Turkish-British writer with 15+ books already published – holds a special place in my heart. I love her books, her writing style, her attitude, her advocacy on social and political topics.

When I think of a super-woman, Elif Shafak is simply the first that comes to my mind!

If you haven’t heard of Elif Shafak or you’re not sure whether to try one of her books, here are 5 reasons why I encourage you to give her stories a chance. You might discover your new favourite writer … just sayin’ 😉

1) She’s a master storyteller

Elif Shafak’s stories are super captivating, with complex narratives that will keep you engaged from the first to the last page. Plus she incorporates multiple languages into her stories (eg: English & Turkish), adding depth to the narration and making the whole experience even more immersive.

For example, The Island of Missing Trees (my review) tells interwoven stories from Cyprus and UK, highlighting the impact of impact of political turmoil on people’s lives. And of course, there’s the story of the fig tree. The magic fig tree….

2) Her books bring together fiction & cultural insights

Through her writing, Elif Shafak brings together amazing fiction stories with valuable insights into Turkish and Middle Eastern cultures. She interweaves historical and contemporary elements, offering a deeper understanding of diverse cultural contexts.

For example, The Forty Rules of Love (my review) brings together a historical fiction story from the 13th century involving a Persian poet and a 21st century love story taking place in US and Turkey.

3) She challenges traditional gender roles

Shafak is a strong advocate for women’s rights, and her beliefs are reflected in the books she writes. Challenging traditional gender roles and exploring the complexities of women’s experiences, Shafak encourages readers to question the societal norms.

For example, 10 Minutes and 38 Seconds in This Strange World explores the realities of being a female sex worker in Istanbul, a deeply touching story of friendship and marginalization.

4) Her characters are authentic and relatable

One of my favourite aspects when reading Shafak’s stories is discovering the characters she built. Either contemporary or from centuries ago, young and old, from Western or Eastern cultures … her characters feel authentic and relatable, adding depth and emotional resonance to the stories.

For example, Three Daughters of Eve (my review) presents the story of Peri, a teenage girl who moved from Turkey to the UK to study at Oxford University; she’s adapting to a new environment while having inner challenges regarding cultural heritage, love and friendship.

5) She addresses controversial topics

Elif Shafak uses her books not only as literary works of art, but also to shed light on important social issues, such as freedom of expression, mental health, women’s rights, and political conflicts. Her courage and perseverance in addressing controversial topics is a real inspiration!

For example, Honour revolves around honour killings – acts of violence (usually murder) against women who are perceived to have brought dishonor upon the family.

I really do hope this post encourages you to read (even more of) Elif Shafak’s stories! I’ll definitely continue reading her books – next on my list are:

  • The Bastard of Istanbul
  • How to Stay Sane in an Age of Division

Let me know if you already read any books by Shafak or if you plan to start reading her stories – I’d love to chat with you about it!

If you would like to buy books or other (non)bookish things, please consider using one of these links: Amazon | Waterstones | Carturesti. Thank you!

‘Till next time … happy reading!


5 thoughts on “Spellbound by Elif Shafak – 5 reasons she’s one of my favourite writers

  1. I definitely want to read Elif Shafak! All the books you mentioned sound great. I tried to read The Bastard of Istanbul and couldn’t get into it, but I think it was just not the right book at the right time. Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm for one of your favorite writers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally agree on the right time for a book … Even if it’s an amazing story, sometimes it simply does not “stick”.

      I used to be very committed to finish reading books despite not enjoying them, but now I take it a bit less serious, and I put aside the stories that I can’t connect with at that point in time.

      Liked by 1 person

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