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10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World

Narrated by: Alix Dunmore
Length: 9 hrs and 11 mins
Categories: Fiction, Literary
4.5 out of 5 stars (32 ratings)

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Publisher's 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

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A touching story of friendship and belonging

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

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Amazing story

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

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    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for TIM H.
  • TIM H.
  • 08-04-19

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • j r mitchell
  • 10-08-19

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

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  • bookylady
  • 10-01-19

Really enjoyable.

I really loved the whole notion of a novel being based on the final 10 minutes 38 seconds of brain activity of a dead person. A clever idea and one that has been skillfully used by an author at the height of her powers.
The narrative features Leila, a young woman who feels compelled to leave her sleepy provincial town when her father calls her a whore on finding out that she has been molested by her uncle. Feeling betrayed by her family she arrives in Istanbul and almost immediately falls into danger and trouble. She is forced by circumstance into the life of a sex worker, but one with a heart and a strong will of her own. She refuses to accept that she cannot have some control over her own life.
She gathers around her a group of unusual friends, mostly misfits, and lives as full a life as she can, eventually finding love and marriage.

But fate has other plans for Leila and she ends up being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Her 'dead' brain recalls memories from her life and friendships and through them we learn her story and about the qualities which made her a special person. After her death her loyal friends come together to bring about a fitting end to Leila's life.

The narrator did an excellent job and brought all of the colourful, marvellous characters to life. Some of the novel reveals uncomfortable facts about Turkish attitudes to women and to morality, particularly in respect to sex workers.


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Profile Image for Dan
  • Dan
  • 09-27-19

Exceptional storytelling and tangible descriptions

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

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  • Lizzy h
  • 08-18-19

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.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-10-19

accent

could nt capture , what accent it was in the audio book- however, definitely not turkish.

the experience would be more beautiful, if it uses real turkish accent

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-12-19

Enjoyable

A good story tackling a variety of difficult subjects. Very much a book for women. I enjoyed it but found it rather predictable

0 of 1 people found this review helpful