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Elif Shafak biography

Author Biography  | Interview  | Books by this Author  | Read-Alikes

Elif Shafak
Photo: Ebru Bilun

Elif Shafak

How to pronounce Elif Shafak: El-liff Sha-fahk

Elif Shafak Biography

Elif Shafak is an award-winning British-Turkish novelist. She has published 19 books, 12 of which are novels, including her latest The Island of Missing Trees. 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."

Elif Shafak's website

This bio was last updated on 10/15/2021. In a perfect world, we would like to keep all of BookBrowse's biographies up to date, but with many thousands of lives to keep track of it's simply impossible to do. So, if the date of this bio is not recent, you may wish to do an internet search for a more current source, such as the author's website or social media presence. If you are the author or publisher and would like us to update this biography, send the complete text and we will replace the old with the new.

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Interview

Elif Shafak, author of The Bastard of Istanbul, discusses her childhood, growing up in different parts of Europe, her adult years spent between Turkey and the US, the insights she has gained from the various cultures, and how it has effected her writing.

A Conversation with Elif Shafak

Where were you born, and when and how did you come to live in America?
I was born in France, Strasbourg, in 1971. All throughout my childhood and youth I have lived in different cities and countries, including Madrid, Spain; Amman, Jordan; and Cologne, Germany. Then in my thirties I came to the United States, first to Boston, then Michigan and Arizona. I am not an immigrant. I guess all my life I have been a nomad, a commuter.

You divide your time between Istanbul, Turkey, and Tucson, Arizona. What do you think is the most striking contrast between the two cities? What do you think they have most in common?
I have always danced around this question, and I think I’m going to continue dancing around it now. Like Miles, I grew up in Florida and attended a boarding school in Alabama. And the physical setting of Alaska is very, very similar to the physical place I attended boarding school. Generally, the book is probably more autobiographical than I usually acknowledge. But it is very much a work of fiction. The facts, I can assure you, were ignored.

Right now I divide my time between these two cities and the contrast couldn’t be deeper. Tucson when compared to Istanbul is ...

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Books by this Author

Books by Elif Shafak at BookBrowse
There Are Rivers in the Sky jacket The Island of Missing Trees jacket Three Daughters of Eve jacket The Architect's Apprentice jacket
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Read-Alikes

All the books below are recommended as read-alikes for Elif Shafak but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose read-alikes

  • Tash Aw

    Tash Aw

    Tash Aw was born in Taipei to Malaysian parents. He grew up in Kuala Lumpur before moving to Britain to attend university. He is the author of three critically acclaimed novels – The Harmony Silk Factory (2005), which ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Bastard of Istanbul

    Try:
    Map of the Invisible World
    by Tash Aw

  • Chris Bohjalian

    Chris Bohjalian

    Chris Bohjalian is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of twenty-three books, including Hour of the Witch, The Red Lotus, Midwives, and The Flight Attendant, was the basis for the hit HBO Max television series starring ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Bastard of Istanbul

    Try:
    The Sandcastle Girls
    by Chris Bohjalian

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