10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World

Elif Shafak

Chair: Sam Leith

07/03/2020 7:15 pm
Kings Place, Hall 2

Dubbed ‘one of the best writers in the world today’ by author Hanif Kureishi, novelist Elif Shafak has produced a work of great power and beauty. Sex worker Leila is dying, her body abandoned in a rubbish dump. In the last ten minutes 38 seconds of her life she recollects precious memories: spiced goat stew; bubbling vats of lemon and sugar; the cardamom coffee she shares with a handsome student in the brothel where she works. Each fading memory evokes her bittersweet life. Elif discuses worlds fictionalised and real with Sam Leith.

Elif Shafak


Elif Shafak is an award-winning British-Turkish novelist. She has published 19 books, 12 of which are novels. She is a bestselling author in many countries around the world and her work has been translated into 55 languages. 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and RSL Ondaatje Prize; and was Blackwell’s Book of the Year. The Forty Rules of Love was chosen by BBC among the 100 Novels that Shaped Our World. The Architect’s Apprentice was chosen for the Duchess of Cornwall’s inaugural book club, The Reading Room. Shafak holds a PhD in political science and she has taught at various universities in Turkey, the US and the UK, including St Anne's College, Oxford University, where she is an honorary fellow. She also holds a Doctorate of Humane Letters from Bard College. Shafak is a Fellow and a Vice President of the Royal Society of Literature. She was a member of Weforum Global Agenda Council on Creative Economy and a founding member of ECFR (European Council on Foreign Relations). An advocate for women's rights, LGBTQ+ rights and freedom of expression, Shafak is an inspiring public speaker and twice TED Global speaker. Shafak contributes to major publications around the world and she was awarded the medal of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. In 2017 she was chosen by Politico as one of the twelve people “who will give you a much needed lift of the heart”. She has judged numerous literary prizes, including PEN Nabokov prize and she has chaired the Wellcome Prize. Recently Shafak was awarded the Halldór Laxness International Literature Prize for her contribution to 'the renewal of the art of storytelling.' www.elifshafak.com

Sam Leith


Sam Leith is literary editor at the Spectator, a columnist at the Financial Times and Prospect, and his work appears regularly in the Guardian, The Times and the TLS among others. His books include You Talkin' to Me? Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama.

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