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  • 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World

  • Written by: Elif Shafak
  • Narrated by: Alix Dunmore
  • Length: 9 hrs and 11 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (285 ratings)

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10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World

Written by: Elif Shafak
Narrated by: Alix Dunmore
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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

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

Average Customer Ratings
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Simply unbelievable !! What a wonderful experience

So this was my second audible , the first being Harry Potter.

This book was simply like a talking picture which I could imagine in my head . The book is amazing and Absolutely amazing narration , I was hooked on it completely , felt every emotion , I smiled and I cried and even got scared at the end ..!!

Addicted to Audibles now !!

Cheers and happy hearing

4 people found this helpful

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excellent storytelling

loved it...passionate story from Turkey...handles sensitive issues gracefully
excellent narration...changing voices is a plus.

my first book from Turkey and also where story starts after protagonist death

no wonder this novel is shortlisted for 2019 booker prize

2 people found this helpful

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Beautiful story & narration

The story has been so beautiful weaved that the characters are etched in one's mind. The infuse of history & description of places makes the listener travel in time & to the places in the story. Loved Alix's narration. I am more than happy to have listened to the story before reading the actual book.

1 person found this helpful

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speechless

what a narrative. I have got find of elif shafak style.of writing. and this one was the best

1 person found this helpful

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must read

touching and poignant tale of 5 friends who met by design of destiny to comfort each other

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A narrative with a serene demeanor and a beautiful

About the book:-
Leila is the protagonist of the story who is found dead in a dark alleyway, left to rot next to a dumpster. She is about to die when she recalls about her early years with family and friends for the following 10 minutes and 38 seconds. In her last thoughts, she reflects on her traumatic upbringing, her newfound Istanbul family of eccentric friends, and the series of events that took place the night before she passed away.

The book is divided into 3 parts. The first part focuses on Leila's childhood and upbringing. Second is about her five friends who mourns the death of a dear friend and their own tragic stories. Final part is a send off to Leila who is finally at rest where she is free.

My thoughts:-
This book was one of the books that will surprise you to your core as you read it. I didn't had any expectations from this book but everything about this book took me by surprise and impressed me. Its so beautifully written. Every chapter and characters are so vivid as if you are watching it infront of your eyes and on occasions you just want to reach out and comfort the characters as they face the harshest brutality of this world.
The concept of this book is so unique and poignant. I was effected by the characters, and the writing itself is profoundly mystical in some way. The story of Leila and her friends inspires people. It welcomes diversity, inclusion, and gives great importance to friendships and empathy. Leila's story also deals with taboos that are part of society and culture, such as how women are treated in patriarchal societies and how minority, immigrants, and misfits are treated.
Often times I had to stop reading because the story slaps us with the harsh realities of society. The unfairness women face in patriarchal dominant society is unbearable and the consequences of these brutality evident through Leila's family. Multiple triggers are part of the book like multiple forms of abuse and trauma.
A narrative with a serene demeanor and a beautifully haunting but disturbing theme. Check this book out, you'll be surprised.

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loved ot

the second book by this author and loved this one equally and the narration is amazing

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a gateway

loved the way it was narrated. the premise of the novel is unique but that isn't the only thing that makes this an interesting listen... it opens up a window to Istanbul and Turkish people and society. not the archetypes of media but as a living breathing mass of people who are like you n me in more ways than they are different. Hopes, and dreams and heartbreaks are what binds us all together... and so do love and friendship nurture us.

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intriguing listen

The first part of the book is way better than the others, when the book delves into Leila's memories. I would have preferred a white woman not imitating Turkish accents.

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Lovely book

This was a beautiful melancholic book with a lot of emotions. The author took us to the streets of Istanbul into the life or rather murder of Tequila Laila with an 'i' and not a 'y'. How very strange is the fact that in some people the brain activity can go on for as long as 10 minutes and38 seconds after their heart has stopped. What goes on in the brain after death is what the book is all about. The water family(friends) is sometimes all we need to survive when the blood family is a mess.
This teared me up more than once. Lovely work by Elif Shafak. I will check out more of his work. Brilliant narration by Alix Dunmore.
4.5 stars from me.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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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    5 out of 5 stars
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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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    4 out of 5 stars
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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.

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  • Sigrin
  • 08-02-20

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

11 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 30-11-19

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.

8 people found this helpful

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  • HN786
  • 12-01-20

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).

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • TIM H.
  • 04-08-19

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.

6 people found this helpful

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  • A. Peacock
  • 14-11-19

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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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • bookylady
  • 01-10-19

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.


3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jo Mann
  • 02-11-19

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

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

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Dan
  • 27-09-19

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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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Lizzy h
  • 18-08-19

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.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Kris
  • 12-03-20

Scintillating, Fascinating Characters

Beautifully read, this was a wonderful picture of life for the common social outliers of Istanbul. Kinda dreamy to begin with, as the rhythm of introductions emerged, I was hooked. One of the best Audible books I've purchased.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kiki
  • 26-07-21

Captivating

LOVED IT! Elif Shafak takes you on a journey through mysterious Istanbul and into the lives of some beautiful people.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kerry Kilner
  • 14-02-21

This should have won the Booker

This is one of the best novels I have read it listened to in my life. A wonderful story by a wonderful writer. Full of compassion, depth of understanding and brilliant characters.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 25-11-20

Impactful

Sorrowfully beautiful and captivating - difficult at times due to the subject-matter, but highly worthwhile and illuminating.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-09-22

An eloquent tale of friendship and loyalty

I adored this book. Exquisitely crafted from the first word - I was hooked. It was like a fairytale so deftly narrated that I felt enveloped within the story the entire time. Bravo Elif and Alix!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-06-22

Loved ♥️

Loved this book love this writer, such an incredible storyteller 🌿 look forward to reading more by her

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • jill
  • 13-04-22

superb

loved loved loved this book! original and so we’ll written and read. I was sad to finish it

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 26-10-21

Interesting beginning but dragged ending

The author has a talent for telling stories. The book started with an interesting idea but apart for the first part it seemed that the author was scrambling to fill the pages with so many details that are quite irrelevant to the story line. Not sure what she was going for but kept reading in the hopes of reaching a peak or epiphany but neither happened.