Elif Shafak biography

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Elif Shafak
Photo: Ebru Bilun

Elif Shafak

Elif Shafak Biography

Elif Shafak is an award-winning novelist and the most widely read female writer in Turkey. She is also a political commentator and an inspirational public speaker.

She writes in both Turkish and English, and has published 15 books, 10 of which are novels, including the bestselling The Bastard of Istanbul and The Forty Rules of Love. Her books have been translated into 47 languages. She is published by Penguin in the UK and represented by Curtis Brown globally.

Shafak is a TED Global speaker, a member of Weforum Global Agenda Council on Creative Economy in Davos and a founding member of ECFR (European Council on Foreign Relations). She has been awarded the title of Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2010 by the French government.

She has been featured in major newspapers and periodicals around the world, including the Financial Times, the Guardian, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Der Spiegel, and La Repubblica.

Shafak has taught at various universities in Turkey, UK and USA. She holds a degree in International Relations, a masters degree in Gender and Women's Studies and a PhD in Political Science. She is known as a women's rights, minority rights and LGBT rights advocate.

As a public speaker Shafak is represented by The London Speaker Bureau and Chartwell Speakers and Penguin Speakers Bureau.

Shafak has been longlisted for the Orange Prize, MAN Asian Prize; the Baileys Prize and the IMPAC Dublin Award, and shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and RSL Ondaatje Prize

She sat on the judging panel for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize (2013); Sunday Times Short Story Award (2014, 2015), 10th Women of the Future Awards (2015); FT/Oppenheimer Funds Emerging Voices Awards (2015, 2016); Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction (2016) and Man Booker International Prize (2017).

She lives in London.

Elif Shafak's website

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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
Three Daughters of Eve jacket The Architect's Apprentice jacket Honor jacket The Forty Rules of Love jacket
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Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes 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 readalikes

  • Tash Aw

    Tash Aw

    Tash Aw was born in Taipei to Malaysian-Chinese parents and grew up in Kuala Lumpar. He moved to England at 18 to attend university, where he studied Law at Cambridge and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia.

    He ... (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 author of twenty books, including The Guest Room; Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands; The Sandcastle Girls; Skeletons at the Feast; The Double Bind; and Midwives which was a number one ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Bastard of Istanbul

    Try:
    The Sandcastle Girls
    by Chris Bohjalian

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Book Discussion
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A powerful, transporting novel about the addictive intensity and freedom of the American frontier.

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