Emirates Airline Festival of Literature: Book lovers enthralled to catch up with Elif Shafak

Dubai - Shafak talked about her struggle and her latest work, aimed at bridging the sociocultural gap between East and West.



By Somya Mehta

Published: Sat 6 Feb 2021, 11:23 PM

World-renowned author of Turkish origin, Elif Shafak, delighted fans virtually at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, in conversation with Ahlam Bolooki, the festival director.

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The bilingual novelist and women’s rights activist, known for bringing people together through storytelling, shared her insights during a session with the festival director Ahlam Bolooki.

Shafak talked about her struggle and her latest work, aimed at bridging the sociocultural gap between East and West. Along with bestselling page-turners The Forty Rules of Love and 10 minutes 38 seconds in This Strange World, Shafak has also authored insightful non-fiction How to Stay Sane in an Age of Division.

Though her recent work explores emotionally charged topics such as death and sexual abuse, her books give an uplifting reading experience, thanks to Shafak’s intrinsically woven bonds of friendship, sisterhood and solidarity.

Storytelling is a potent force of imparting knowledge and should be used to engage people in sociocultural issues, said Shafak. “It is only when I know people’s stories as individuals, that I can realise that the people I regard as the others are not ‘others’ at all. They are my brothers and sisters. Then, all categories we put people in, start to dissolve.”

Shafak’s novel 10 minutes 38 seconds in This Strange World, centers around a cemetery in Istanbul, where there are no tombstones, and people are only identified by numbers. “My instinct, as an author, was to take at least one of those numbers and give it a story, a name, an individuality. I think literature has to and should re-humanise people that have been dehumanised for a long time.”

The author’s sharp social commentary and cultural insight are what draws the readers to transport themselves into her world and get to know her characters personally and empathetically.

“Throughout my writing journey, I’ve been much more interested in the periphery rather than the centre. Literature and the art of storytelling gives a voice to the voiceless, brings the periphery to the centre and makes the invisible a bit more visible”, added Shafak, when asked how people can move away from the widespread narrative of divide and political distress.

somya@khaleejtimes.com

Elif Shafak interacts with audience at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature on Saturday. — Supplied photo
Elif Shafak interacts with audience at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature on Saturday. — Supplied photo

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