||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (July 2011)|
25 October 1971 |
|Literary movement||postmodernism, historical fiction, magic realism, literary fiction|
|Notable work(s)||The Gaze
The Bastard of Istanbul
The Forty Rules of Love: A Novel of Rumi
Elif Şafak (also spelled Elif Shafak, born 1971, Strasbourg, France) is a Turkish writer. She is one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary literature in both Turkish and English. Her books have been translated into more than thirty languages, and she was awarded the honorary distinction of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters.
Early life 
Şafak was born in Strasbourg to philosopher Nuri Bilgin and Şafak Atayman who later became a diplomat. When she was a year old her parents separated and Şafak was raised by a single mother. She said that not growing up in a typical patriarchal family had a great impact on her work and writing. She incorporated her mother's first name, which means Dawn, with her own when constructing her pen name.
Şafak spent her teenage years in Madrid and Amman before returning to Turkey. She has also lived in Boston, Michigan, Arizona, Istanbul and London.
Academic life 
Şafak is a political scientist, having graduated from the program in International Relations at Middle East Technical University in Turkey. She holds a Master's degree in Gender and Women’s Studies and a Ph.D. in political science from the same university. Her master’s thesis on Islam, women, and mysticism ("Islamic Mysticism and the Circular Understanding of Time") received an award from the Social Scientists Institute.
Şafak is a regular contributor to the Haberturk, a major newspaper in Turkey as well as several international daily & weekly publications, including The Guardian , The New York Times, Le Monde, Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and Time (Magazine), Newsweek and has been featured in the U.S. on National Public Radio.
Her nonfiction covers a wide range of topics, including belonging, identity, gender, mental ghettoes, daily life politics, multicultural literature and the art of coexistence. These essays have been collected in three books, Med-Cezir (2005), Firarperest (2010) and Şemspare (2012).
Elif Şafak has published twelve books, eight of which are novels.
Şafak's first novel, Pinhan (The Mystic) was awarded the Rumi Prize in 1998, which is given to the best work in mystical literature in Turkey. Her second novel, Şehrin Aynaları (Mirrors of the City), focuses on a family of Jewish conversos in 17th century Spain and Ottoman Empire, bringing together Jewish and Islamic mysticism against a historical setting. Şafak's next novel Mahrem (The Gaze), earned her the Union of Turkish Writers' Prize in 2000. Imbued with fantastic elements and satire, the novel tells an unusual love story between an overweight woman and her lover, a dwarf. The following novel, Bit Palas (The Flea Palace), was a bestseller in Turkey and was shortlisted for Independent Best Foreign Fiction in 2005. The book was followed by Med-Cezir, a non-fiction book of essays on gender, sexuality, mental ghettoes, and literature.
Şafak's first novel to be written in English, The Saint of Incipient Insanities, was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2004. Her second novel in English, The Bastard of Istanbul, was the bestselling book of 2006 in Turkey and was longlisted for the Orange prize. The novel, which tells the story of an Armenian and a Turkish family through the eyes of women resulted in charges being brought against Şafak for "insulting Turkishness" under Article 301, but the charges were subsequently dismissed.
Şafak then published Black Milk, a memoir on motherhood, writing and creativity. “The “black milk” of the title refers to the conflict she felt between her roles as a writer and mother—her fears that she could not meet the demands of both simultaneously—and nearly year-long bout of postpartum depression she suffered.” 
Şafak's next novel, written in English, The Forty Rules of Love, was published in the U.S. in February 2010 and in the UK by Penguin Books in June 2010. Selling more than 750,000 copies it became a record best-seller in Turkey. The novel, titled Soufi, mon amour in French (Phébus), 2011 was awarded Prix ALEF* - Mention Spéciale Littérature Etrangére. For the first time the award was given to a novel not written in French. The Forty Rules of Love was also longlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 2012. Şafak is also a best-selling author in Italy, France and Bulgaria.
In July 2010 Şafak gave a speech at TED Oxford on “The Politics of Fiction”. She talked about the role of literature in helping leap over cultural walls and embrace different experiences and argued that fiction can overcome the limits of Identity politics. She said, “knowledge that does not take us beyond is far worse than ignorance.”. On the internet this talk has been watched by more than 600 000 people.
Her eighth novel, Honour, released in Turkey in July 2011 and published by Penguin in the UK in April 2012, is set in London in the 1970s and concerns the experiences of a half-Kurdish, half-Turkish immigrant family.
Istanbul has always been a central part of Şafak’s writing. According to Şafak, "In Istanbul, you understand, perhaps not intellectually but intuitively, that East and West are ultimately imaginary ideas, ones that can be de-imagined and re-imagined." In the same essay written for Time Magazine Şafak says "East and West is no water and oil. They do mix. And in a city like Istanbul they mix intensely, incessantly, amazingly."
In a piece she wrote for the BBC, she said, “Istanbul is like a huge, colourful Matrushka - you open it and find another doll inside. You open that, only to see a new doll nesting. It is a hall of mirrors where nothing is quite what it seems. One should be cautious when using categories to talk about Istanbul. If there is one thing the city doesn't like, it is clichés."
Şafak first became interested in Sufism as a college student in her early 20s. In The Forty Rules of Love, she tackles the subject with a modern love story between a Jewish-American housewife and a modern Sufi living in Amsterdam. She said in an interview given to the Guardian, "The more you read about Sufism, the more you have to listen. In time I became emotionally attached. When I was younger I wasn't interested in understanding the world. I only wanted to change it, through feminism or nihilism or environmentalism. But the more I read about Sufism the more I unlearned. Because that is what Sufism does to you, it makes you erase what you know, what you are so sure of. And then start thinking again. Not with your mind this time, but with your heart."
Motherhood, feminism and post-feminism 
Elif Şafak was raised by two women– her modern, diplomat mother and her traditional, religious, Eastern grandmother.” “I grew up seeing two different types of womanhood. On the one hand was my mother—a well-educated, modern, Westernized, secular Turkish woman. Always rational. Always to the point. On the other hand was my maternal grandmother, who also took care of me and was less educated, more spiritual and definitely less rational. This was a woman who read coffee grounds to see the future and melted lead into mysterious shapes to fend off the evil eye.”  "Magical realism permeates her fiction, with djinns (spirits) interrupting and influencing characters' thoughts, prompting inevitable comparisons with Isabel Allende. Both embrace superstition as part of their writing routine."  Following the birth of her daughter in 2006 she suffered from postpartum depression, a period she then addressed in her memoir, Black Milk: on Motherhood, Writing and the Harem Within. "Until the age of 35, writes the author, she defined herself as a writer, cosmopolitan, lover of Sufism, pacifist, vegetarian and woman “in more or less that order…and first and foremost…a teller of tales”—all while hearing a cacophony of competing internal voices"  Şafak has commented: "The title came from my grandmother saying that if you cried too much the milk would turn sour. I wanted to show that mother's milk is not always as white – that is, spotless – as society likes to think. Out of that black milk I got ink, with which to write not just about my experience but that of other women."  "Şafak’s skillful storytelling shows how a "Choir of Discordant Voices", finger-sized Thumbelinas inside her head cajole, tease, berate and encourage her, becoming her life-line as she navigates through a maze and fog of depression.
- Honour, Nominated for the Man Asian Literary Prize, 2012
- The Forty Rules of Love, Nominated for 2012 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 
- Chevalier Des Arts et Lettres
- Turkish Journalists and Writers Foundation "The Art of Coexistence Award-2009" 
- International Rising Talent, Women's Forum - Deauville, France 2009 
- The Bastard of Istanbul, Long listed for Orange Prize for Fiction, London 2008 
- The Gaze, Longlisted for Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, United Kingdom 2007 
- Maria Grazia Cutuli Award - International Journalism Prize, Italy 2006 
- The Flea Palace, Short listed for Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, United Kingdom 2005
- The Gaze, Union of Turkish Writers' Best Novel Prize, 2000
- Pinhan, The Great Rumi Award, Turkey 1998 
- Kem Gözlere Anadolu, 96pp, 1994, Evrensel, ISBN 9789757837299
- Pinhan, 224pp, 1997, Metis, ISBN 975-342-297-0
- Şehrin Aynaları, 280pp, 1999, Metis, ISBN 975-342-298-9
- Mahrem, 216pp, 2000, Metis, ISBN 975-342-285-7
- Bit Palas, 361pp, 2002, Metis, ISBN 975-342-354-3
- Araf (translation of The Saint of Incipient Insanities), 352pp, 2004, Metis, ISBN 975-342-465-5
- Beşpeşe, 680pp, 2004, Metis, ISBN 975-342-467-1 (with Murathan Mungan, Faruk Ulay, Celil Oker and Pınar Kür)
- Med-Cezir, 254pp, 2005, Metis, ISBN 975-342-533-3
- Baba ve Piç (translation of The Bastard of Istanbul), 384 pp, 2006, Metis, ISBN 975-342-553-8
- Siyah Süt, 303 pp, 2007, Doğan, ISBN 975-991-531-6
- Aşk, 420 pp, 2009, Doğan, ISBN 978-605-111-107-0
- Kâğıt Helva, 156pp, 2010, Doğan, ISBN 978-605-111-426-2
- Firarperest, 236pp, 2010, Doğan, ISBN 978-605-111-902-1
- İskender, 443pp, 2011, Doğan, ISBN 978-605-090-251-8
- Şemspare, 248pp, 2012, Doğan, ISBN 978-605-090-799-5
- Dutch translations
- De bastaard van Istanbul, 2007, De Geus, ISBN 978-90-445-0973-1
- Het luizenpaleis, 2008, De Geus, ISBN 978-90-445-1234-2
- De heilige van de beginnende waanzin, 2008, De Geus, ISBN 978-90-445-0974-8
- Geheim, 2009, De Geus, ISBN 978-90-445-0712-6
- Ask, 2009, BerkBoeken, ISBN 978-605-111-107-0
- Liefde kent veertig regels, 2011, De Geus, ISBN 9789044517422
- Zwarte melk : over schrijven, moederschap en mijn innerlijke harem, 2012, De Geus, ISBN 9789044513738
- English translations
- The Saint of Incipient Insanities, 368pp, 2004, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, ISBN 0-374-25357-9
- The Flea Palace (translation of Bit Palas), 260pp, 2005, Marion Boyars, ISBN 0-7145-3101-4
- The Gaze (translation of Mahrem), 252pp, 2006, Marion Boyars, ISBN 0-7145-3121-9
- The Bastard of Istanbul, 368pp, 2006, Viking Adult, ISBN 0-670-03834-2
- The Forty Rules of Love: A Novel of Rumi, 368 pp, 2010, Viking Adult, ISBN 0-670-02145-8
- Black Milk: On Writing, Motherhood, and the Harem Within, 267 pp, 2011, Viking Books, ISBN 0-670-02264-0
- Honour, 352pp, 2012, Viking, ISBN 0-670-92115-7
- French translations
- La Bâtarde d’Istanbul (translation of The Bastard of Istanbul), 320 pp, 2007, Phébus, ISBN 978-2-7529-0278-8
- Bonbon Palace (translation of Bit Palas), 464 pp, 2008, Phébus, ISBN 9782752902825
- Lait noir (translation of Black Milk), 352 pp, 2009, Phébus, ISBN 978-2-7529-0378-5
- Soufi, mon amour (translation of The Forty Rules of Love), 475 pp, 2010, 10/18, ISBN 978-2-264-05406-7
- German translations
- Spiegel der Stadt (translation of Şehrin Aynaları from Turkish), Literaturca Verlag 2004, ISBN 3-935535-06-6
- Die Heilige des nahenden Irrsinns (translation of The Saint of Incipient Insanities from English ), Eichborn 2005, ISBN 3-8218-5750-1
- Der Bastard von Istanbul (translation of The Bastard of Istanbul from English), Eichborn 2007, ISBN 3-8218-5799-4
- Der Bonbonpalast (translation of Bit Palas from Turkish), Eichborn 2008, ISBN 3-8218-5806-0
- Italian translations
- La bastarda di Istanbul, Rizzoli, Milano 2007, ISBN 978-88-17-01726-8
- Il palazzo delle pulci, Rizzoli, Milano 2008 ISBN 8817021760
- Le quaranta porte Rizzoli, Milano 2009 ISBN 8817032384
- Latte nero Rizzoli, Milano 2010 ISBN 8817045629
- La casa dei quattro venti Rizzoli, Milano 2012 ISBN 8817057037
- Polish translations
- Pchli Pałac, Wydawnictwo Literackie, Kraków 2009, ISBN 978-83-08-04332-5
- Bękart ze Stambułu, Wydawnictwo Literackie, Kraków 2010, ISBN 978-83-08-04417-9
- Lustra miasta, Wydawnictwo Literackie, Kraków 2011, ISBN 978-83-08-04556-5
- Czarne mleko, Wydawnictwo Literackie, Kraków 2011, ISBN 978-83-08-04765-1
- 40 zasad miłości, Wydawnictwo Literackie, Kraków 2012, ISBN 978-83-08-04853-5
- This is the spelling on her foreign editions, including the Penguin Books edition of "The Forty Rules of Love"
- Journal of Turkish Literature,Issue 6,2009
- Finkel, Andrew. "Portrait of Elif Şafak". Turkish Cultural Foundation. Retrieved 2010-12-10.
- Shafak, Elif (2010-07-14). "The Politics of Fiction". TED (Technology Entertainment and Design). Retrieved 2010-12-10.
- Two NPR interviews with Shafak can be found here
- "Spanning the literary globe". The Independent (London). 2005-03-04.
- Fowler, Susanne (2006-09-15). "Turkey, a Touchy Critic, Plans to Put a Novel on Trial". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-08-23.
- Lea, Richard (2006-07-24). "In Istanbul, a writer awaits her day in court". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2011-08-23.
- Burch, Nick (2006-09-22). "Judge throws out charges against Turkish novelist". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2011-08-23.
- http://rizzoli.rcslibri.corriere.it/autore/shafak_elif.html ; http://www.elifshafak.fr/ ;http://egmontbulgaria.com/search/?q=Elif+shafak
- "Curtis Brown website". Retrieved 2012-03-04.
- "Penguin Books website". Retrieved 2012-03-04.
- Shafak, Elif (2006-07-31). "Pulled by Two Tides". Time Magazine. Retrieved 2010-12-10.
- Shafak, Elif (2010-05-13). "The Essay: Postcards from Istanbul". BBC Radio 3. Retrieved 2010-12-10.
- Abrams, Rebecca (2010-06-19). "Elif Shafak: Motherhood is sacred in Turkey". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-12-10.
- http://www.wildriverreview.com/INTERVIEW/Writing-with-Black-Ink/Elif-Shafak/July-2011/Angie-Brenner. Missing or empty
- http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/breaking-down-the-boundaries-20100316-qcfd.html). Missing or empty
- "Breaking down the boundaries". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2010-03-17.
- "News of the world: Independent Foreign Fiction Prize". The Independent (London). 2007-01-19.
- [Today’s Zaman, 28 October 2006, Saturday / ANADOLU NEWS AGENCY (AA), ROMA]
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Elif Şafak|
- Elif Shafak Official Web Site
- Curtis Brown Literary and Talent Agency
- TED Talk: The Politics of Fiction
- CNN Elif Shafak on The Power of Stories at TED
- CNN International Elif Shafak's Istanbul
- The Guardian Elif Shafak: Motherhood is sacred in Turkey
- BBC Radio World Service The Strand Elif Shafak 'Read My Country'
- Novel excerpt in Bosphorus Art Project Quarterly
- Book Preview: Elif Shafak's "Black Milk": On Writing, Motherhood and the Harem Within Qantara.de