The award winning Turkish writer Elif Shafak shows CNN around her home city of Istanbul and talks about her inspiration as a writer.
Her latest book “The 40 Rules of Love” focuses on the characters from ancient Turkey and sufism, a subject close to her heart, whose many symbols can be seen on the streets of Istanbul, many of her other books have the city playing an important role.
Elif starts her tour of Istanbul in Ortakoy, a charming suburb of Istanbul, on the European shore of the Bosphorus, with cafes, restaurants, boutiques, right under the first Bosphorus bridge.
Elif Shafak was born in Strasbourg, France, in 1971. She is an award-winning novelist and the most widely read woman writer in Turkey.
Elif spent her teenage years in Madrid, Spain before returning to her native Turkey. Throughout her life she has lived in numerous cities and states, including Ankara, Turkey, Cologne, Germany; Amman, Jordan; and Boston, Michigan, and Arizona. She has at the same time been deeply attached to the city of Istanbul, which plays an important part in her fiction. As a result, a sense of multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism has consistently characterized both her life and her work.
Elif has published nine books, seven of which are novels. She writes in both Turkish and English. Her most recent novel, THE FORTY RULES OF LOVE was released in February 2010. Selling more than 150 000 copies in a month it instantly became number one best-seller in Turkey.
Elif’s first novel, Pinhan (The Sufi) was awarded the “Rumi Prize” in 1998, which is given to the best work in mystical literature in Turkey. Safak greatly increased her readership with her novel Mahrem (The Gaze), which earned her the “Union of Turkish Writers´ Prize” in 2000. Her next novel, Bit Palas (The Flea Palace), has been a bestseller in Turkey. Shafak uses the narrative structure of A Thousand and One Nights to construct a story-within-a-story narrative.”
Elif’s first novel written 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 (a literal Turkish translation of the title would be “The Father and the Bastard”), which was the bestselling book of 2006 in Turkey. The novel brought Shafak under prosecution by the Turkish government for “insulting Turkishness” under Article 301 of the Turkish Criminal Code. The charges were ultimately dismissed.