Shafak book reading & signing:
event was made possible by contributions from Efes
Turkish Cuisine, Ilker
Altinoglu and Fikriye
13th, 2004. Changing Hands Bookstore @ 7:00 pm.
(Changing Hands Bookstore is located at 6428
S. McClintock Dr., SW corner of Guadalupe & McClintock)
pm: Author will be reading from "the
Saint of Incipient Insanities"
pm: Author will be signing her books
during the reception. Reception will be catered
Restaurant (SW, Guadalupe & McClintock).
SAINT OF INCIPIENT INSANITIES
is the comic and heartbreaking story of a group of
twenty-something friends, and their never-ending quest
Abed and Piyu are roommates, foreigners all recently
arrived in the United States. Omer, from Istanbul,
is a Ph.D. student in political science who adapts
quickly to his new home, and falls in love with the
bisexual, suicidal, intellectual chocolate maker Gail.
Gail is American yet feels utterly displaced in her
homeland and moves from one obsession to another in
an effort to find solid ground. Abed pursues a degree
in biotechnology, worries about Omer's unruly ways,
his mother's unexpected visit, and stereotypes of
Arabs in America; he struggles to maintain a connection
with his girlfriend back home in Morocco. Piyu is
a Spaniard, who is studying to be a dentist in spite
of his fear of sharp objects, and is baffled by the
many relatives of his Mexican-American girlfriend,
Alegre, and in many ways by Alegre herself.
insightful and sharply humorous, The Saint of Incipient
Insanities is a vibrant exploration of love, friendship,
culture, nationality, exile and belonging.
is an exhilarating roller coaster ride of a novel-a
breathless and vivid journey into the lives of a motley
assortment of brilliant, obsessive, and often troubled
young immigrants, and an American whom one of them
marries. With its themes of displacement, its Boston-area
setting, and its ease with academic topics, Shafak's
novel suggests Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake with the
amplifier cranked up all the way to eleven. A work
replete with dazzling wordplay, an infatuation with
pop culture, and a fearless intellect, The Saint of
Incipient Insanities marks Elif Shafak as a compellingly
original voice in 21st Century fiction."
-Adam Langer, author of Crossing California
Shafak offers us an indelibly haunting portrait of
contemporary America, in all its sexual/ethno/religious
contortions. Goofy, sad, wise, and heart-breakingly
funny, her novel is a bittersweet delight to read."
-Fernanda Eberstadt, author of The Furies
Shafak was born in France, Strasbourg, in 1971. She
spent her teenage years in Spain, before returning
to Turkey. Her first novel, Pinhan-The Sufi (8th edition),
which she published at age 27, was awarded the Rumi
Prize--a recognition given to best works in mystical/transcendental
literature. The novel tells the story of a hermaphrodite
mystic--a little known but revered tradition--inside
the Sufi orders. The body with both sexual organs
is astonishingly linked to the path of the dialectics
of life in the outer order. As in Shafak's other works,
Pinhan explores and challenges the question of identity
at the nexus of physical and metaphysical definitions.
Her second novel, The Mirrors of the City (7th edition),
is about the lives of conversos expelled from Spain,
and especially, about one particular young Se phardic
Jew -gifted with wit, fury and cynicism- who moves
to 17th century Ottoman Empire. By bringing together
Jewish and Islamic characters in Istanbul, the novel
opens up questions on estrangement and deterritorialization.
Titled Mahrem (Hide-and-Seek) (8th edition), her third
novel is about the interventionist gaze of the Muslim/Jalal
God, of the society, as well as of the male lover.
The novel traces the steps of the runaway of the female
body that must search for its elusive autonomy while
being encroached upon by the gazes of others. With
an intricate plot and language, the novel travels
from Siberia in 17th century to France in 19th century
and the story finds its links back to the life of
a bulimic woman and to her childhood and a sexual
abuse in 1980s Turkey, Istanbul. Going through multiple
printings, Mahrem received the Turkish Novel Award.
Shafak published her fourth novel, The Flea Palace
(9th edition), a humorously narrated story of an apartment
building where all the characters and stories are
interlaced to develop the theme of "the seen
and the unseen degradation" --moral, physical,
social as well as cultural-- in the heart of the aging
city of Istanbul. In three months time, the book sold
over 15 000 copies and for more than nine weeks it
was a national best seller. The novel is translated
into English and published by Marion Boyars in the
UK and the USA in 2004.
on a fellowship in the USA, Elif Shafak completed
her fifth novel, in English. The novel, The Saint
of Incipient Insanities is published by Farrar, Straus
& Giroux, fall 2004.
Shafak is also a social scientist, graduated from
International Relations at Middle East Technical University.
She holds MSc degree from Gender and Women Studies,
and has her Ph.D in the Department of Political Science.
Her major in Contemporary Western Political Thought
and her minor in Middle Eastern Studies, Elif Shafak's
academic background has been nurtured by a critical,
interdisciplinary and gender-conscious rereading of
the literature on Middle-East & West, Islam &
MS thesis titled on Islam, Women and Mysticism titled
"The Deconstruction of Femininity Along the Cyclical
Understanding of Heterodox Dervishes in Islam"
was awarded by Social Scientists Institute. Shafak
has taught Ottoman History From the Margins', 'Turkey
& Cultural Identities' and 'Women and Writing'
in Istanbul Bilgi University.
Shafak has been awarded a one-year residency in the
Five Colleges Women's Studies Research Center in 2002-2003.
Then she has been offered a position to teach in 2003-2004
two courses at Ann Arbor, University of Michigan.
(1st semester: Women writing on women: East-West Encounters
/ 2nd semester: The Queer in the Middle East) Most
recently Elif Shafak has joined the faculty at the
University of Arizona, Department of Near Eastern
is currently writing at various dailies, weeklies
and monthlies in Turkey. Contesting the dominant and
manipulative discourse of religious orthodoxy and
nationalist ideologies, as well as the established
gender patterns & roles has been a central theme
in her writings, fiction and nonfiction alike.
Read an excerpt from Mahrem (Hide and Seek
or Hidden) in English here:
To read interviews with the author in Turkish please click
more information on Elif Shafak and to read reviews of her
books, please visit: http://fp.arizona.edu/neareast/Shafak_bio-04.htm
Read an excerpt from The Saint of Incipient Insanities
in BAP-Q issue 1:
©2004 Bosphorus Art Project