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About the Author: Elif Shafak

Elif Shafak was born in Strasbourg, France, in 1971. She is an award-winning novelist and the most widely read woman writer in Turkey. Critics have named her as “one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary Turkish and world literature”. Her books have been translated into more than 40 languages 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. Shafak 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. She also has a keen eye for black humor.
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, Şehrin Aynaları (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 Best Fiction Award.
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 longlisted 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 she suffered from post-natal depression, an experience she addressed in her first autobiographical book, Black Milk. In this book Shafak explored the beauties and difficulties of being a writer and a mother. The book was received with great interest and acclaim by critics and readers alike, being an instant bestseller.
Shafak's next novel focused on Love and love –East & West, past & present, spiritual & mundane, all in the light of Rumi and Shams of Tabriz. The Forty Rules of Love sold over 750 k copies, becoming an all time best-seller in Turkey and in France awarded with the Prix ALEF - Mention Spéciale Littérature Etrangère. It is also nominated for 2012 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.
Her latest novel published in English, Iskender (Honour), has topped the best-seller lists and has been acclaimed by both critics and readers of various ages and backgrounds. The novel has opened up a vivid debate in Turkey about family, love, freedom, redemption and the construct of masculinity. It is the winner of the 2013 Prix Relay des voyageurs in France; nominated for 2012 Man Asian Literary Prize, 2013 Women’s Prize for Fiction and 2014 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.
Her most recent novel Ustam ve Ben (2013 December) revolves around the life of Mimar Sinan, the most famous Ottoman architect and opens up important debates on power, creativity, artistic freedom and bigotry.

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 Guardian, The New York Times, The Independent, and The World Post/Huffington Post. 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 Politic


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Goodreads rating: 3.77

Paperback, Published in Apr 2015 by Penguin

ISBN10: 0241972906 | ISBN13: 9780241972908

From the backlist of Elif Shafak, author of The Architect's Apprentice, The Bastard of Istanbul is a tale of an extraordinary family curse and was longlisted for the 2008 Orange Fiction Prize.

One rainy afternoon in Istanbul, a woman walks into a doctor's surgery. 'I need to have an abortion', she announces. She is nineteen years old and unmarried. What happens that afternoon will change her life.

Twenty years later, Asya Kazanci lives with her extended family in Istanbul. Due to a mysterious family curse, all the Kaznci men die in their early forties, so it is a house of women, among them Asya's beautiful, rebellious mother Zeliha, who runs a tattoo parlour; Banu, who has newly discovered herself as clairvoyant; and Feride, a hypochondriac obsessed with impending disaster. And when Asya's Armenian-American cousin Armanoush comes to stay, long hidden family secrets connected with Turkey's turbulent past begin to emerge.

'Wonderfully magical, incredible, breathtaking...will have you gasping with disbelief in the last few pages' Sunday Express

'A beautiful book, the finest I have read about Turkey' Irish Times

'Heartbreaking...the beauty of Islam pervades Shafak's book' Vogue

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