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|Born||25 October 1971|
|Occupation||Writer, storyteller, academic, public speaker, women's rights activist|
|Notable works||10 Minutes 38 Seconds In This Strange World, Three Daughters of Eve, The Bastard of Istanbul, The Forty Rules of Love, Honour, Black Milk, The Architect's Apprentice, The Flea Palace|
Elif Shafak (Turkish: Elif Şafak, pronounced [eˈlif ʃaˈfak]; born 25 October 1971) is a Turkish-British writer, storyteller, essayist, academic, public speaker, and women's rights activist. In English, she publishes under the anglicised spelling of her pen-name 'Elif Shafak'.
Shafak writes in Turkish and English, and has published 17 books, 11 of which are novels, including 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World, The Bastard of Istanbul, The Forty Rules of Love, and Three Daughters of Eve. Her books have been translated into 53 languages, and she has been awarded Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
Shafak is an activist for women's rights, minority rights, and freedom of speech. She also writes and speaks about a range of issues including global and cultural politics, the future of Europe, Turkey and the Middle East, democracy, and pluralism. She has twice been a TED Global speaker, a member of the Weforum Global Agenda Council on Creative Economy and a founding member of European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR). In 2017, she was chosen by Politico as one of the twelve people that will "give you a much needed lift of the heart".
Shafak was born in Strasbourg to philosopher Nuri Bilgin and Şafak Atayman, who later became a diplomat. After her parents' separated, Shafak returned to Ankara, Turkey, where she was raised by her mother and grandmother. She says that growing up in a dysfunctional family was difficult in many ways, but that growing up in a non-patriarchal environment had a positive impact on her. Having grown up without her father, she met her half-brothers for the first time when she was in her mid-twenties.
Shafak added her mother's first name— Turkish for 'dawn'—to her own when constructing her pen name at the age of eighteen. Shafak spent her teenage years in Ankara, Madrid, Amman, and Istanbul.
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Shafak holds a degree in International Relations, a master's degree in Gender and Women's Studies, and a Ph.D. in Political Science. She has taught at universities in Turkey. In the United States, she was a fellow at Mount Holyoke College, a visiting professor at the University of Michigan, and a tenured professor at the University of Arizona. In the U.K., she held the Weidenfeld Visiting Professorship in Comparative European Literature at St Anne's College, Oxford for the 2017–2018 academic year where she is an honorary fellow.
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Shafak has published seventeen books, eleven of which are novels.
Shafak's first novel, Pinhan (The Hidden), was awarded the Rumi Prize in 1998, an honor bestowed on the best work in mystical literature in Turkey. Her second novel, Şehrin Aynaları (Mirrors of the City), tells the story of a family of Spanish conversos, by bringing together Jewish and Islamic mysticism against a historical setting of seventeenth-century Mediterranean.
Her next novel in English, The Bastard of Istanbul, was long-listed for the Orange Prize. Shafak addresses the Armenian genocide, which is denied by the Turkish government. Shafak was prosecuted on charges of "insulting Turkishness" (Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code) for discussing the genocide in the novel. Had she been convicted, she would have faced a maximum jail term of three years. The Bastard of Istanbul is perhaps the first Turkish novel to deal directly with the massacres, atrocities, and deportations that decimated the country's Armenian population in the last years of Ottoman rule. Of the novel, Ariel Dorfman says, "Mixing humour and tragedy as effortlessly as her two unforgettable families blend and jumble up the many layers of their identity, Elif Shafak offers up an extravagant tale of Istanbul and Arizona, food and remorse, mysticism and tattoos, human comedy and yes, massacres. Quite an exceptional literary feast."
In 2019, another time Elif Shafak was under investigation by Turkish prosecutors for addressing child abuse and sexual violence.
Following the birth of her first child in 2006 she suffered from post-natal depression, an experience she addressed in Siyah Süt (Black Milk). In this book Shafak explored the beauties and challenges of being a woman, writer and a mother.
Shafak's novel The Forty Rules of Love focused on love in the light of Rumi and Shams of Tabriz. It sold more than 900,000 copies in Turkey, and in France was awarded a Prix ALEF* - Mention Spéciale Littérature Etrangére. It was also nominated for the 2012 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.; and was chosen by the BBC among 100 books that shaped our world.
Her next novel, Honour, focused on an honour killing, opening up a vivid debate about family, love, freedom, redemption, and the construct of masculinity. It was nominated for the 2012 Man Asian Literary Prize and Women's Prize for Fiction, 2013. "Shafak's wonderfully expressive prose, sprinkled throughout with Turkish words and phrases, brings the characters to life in such a way that readers will feel they are living the roles."
Shafak's novel The Architect's Apprentice revolves around Mimar Sinan, the most famous Ottoman architect. "Filled with the scents, sounds and sights of the Ottoman Empire, when Istanbul was the teeming centre of civilisation, The Architect's Apprentice is a magical, sweeping tale of one boy and his elephant caught up in a world of wonder and danger."
The Sunday Times said "Shafak is passionately interested in dissolving barriers, whether of race, nationality, culture, gender, geography or a more mystical kind." And the Irish Times has called her, "The most exciting Turkish novelist to reach Western readers in years." The New York Times Book Review says, "She has a particular genius for depicting backstreet Istanbul, where the myriad cultures of the Ottoman Empire are still in tangled evidence on every family tree."
Her novel Three Daughters of Eve (2017) set across Istanbul and Oxford, from the 1980s to the present day, is a sweeping tale of faith and friendship, tradition and modernity, love and unexpected betrayal.[according to whom?] In the Financial Times, Sadiq Khan chose the book as his favourite book of the year. "This is a truly modern novel — about the way we are shaped by politics, including freedom of expression and political repression, but also by our personal relationships." Siri Hustvedt said, "Elif Shafak's urgent, topical novel explores the ambiguities and dangers of being caught in the Land of Between. Three Daughters of Eve upends the omnipresent but crude truisms of East and West, oppression and liberation, right and wrong that continue to divide, torment, and haunt us all."
Her next novel 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World was shortlisted for the Booker prize for RSL Ondaatje Prize and for the Prix de Livre Etranger in France.
Shafak's nonfiction work 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 four books: Med-Cezir (2005), Firarperest (2010), Şemspare (2012) and Sanma ki Yalnizsin (2017).
Shafak has written for numerous publications including The Guardian, Financial Times, La Repubblica, The New Yorker, The New York Times and Der Spiegel. Her work has been reviewed in numerous international publications, including The Washington Post, The Sunday Times, The Guardian, The Financial Times, La Repubblica, The New Yorker, The New York Times, Die Zeit, El Pais, and Der Spiegel.
At the World Economic Forum in 2017, Shafak joined a panel discussion for BBC World on "Politics of Fear: The Rebellion of the Forgotten?" with Ursula von der Leyen, German Defence Minister, Eric Cantor, former House Majority Leader of the US House of Representatives, and Liam Fox, UK Secretary of State for International Trade. On EuroNews she joined a panel discussion "Is this the end for multi-culturalism?" with Brendan Cox, US historian Lonnie Bunch, and Belgian deputy prime minister Alexander De Croo. She was also one of three speakers on a panel on faith alongside the Muslim scholar Abdullah Bin Bayyah and the Chief Rabbi of the UK, Ephraim Mirvis, moderated by Damien O'Brien, Chairman of Egon Zehnder.
In July 2017, Elif Shafak was chosen as a 'castaway' on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs.
Public speaking and literary judging
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Other activities include:
- with Margaret Atwood, David Mitchell and Sjon, selected as the 2017 writer for the Future Library Project, a collection of 100 literary works that will be opened in 2114;[repetition]
- Ambassador of Culture Action Europe Campaign, 2010;
- Special Envoy for EU-Turkey Cultural Bridges Programme, 2010;
- Recipient of the honorary distinction, Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2010;[repetition]
- OSLO Freedom Forum speaker, 2017.
- a founding member of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), 2007; [repetition]
- member of Weforum Global Agenda Council on The Role of Arts in Society;  and
- a guest curator at the Edinburgh Literature Festival, 2017. 
Shafak has served as a judge for the following literary prizes:
- The Orwell Prize for Political Writing, 2020
- Chair of the Wellcome Book Prize 2019 judging panel
- Berggruen Prize Juror for Philosophy & Culture
- The Goldsmiths Prize, 2018
- The 2017 MAN Booker International Prize[circular reference]
- The Sunday Times/Peters Fraser & Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award, 2017
- Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction in 2016
- FT/Oppenheimer Funds Emerging Voices Awards, 2016 and 2015
- The 2016 Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction
- The 10th Women of the Future Awards, 2015
- Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards, 2015
- Sunday Times Short Story Award in 2014, 2015
- The 2013 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize
Areas of interest
Istanbul has always been central to Shafak's writing. She depicts the city as a 'She-city' and likens it to an old woman with a young heart who is eternally hungry for new stories and new loves. Shafak has remarked: "Istanbul makes one comprehend, perhaps not intellectually but intuitively, that East and West are ultimately imaginary concepts, and can thereby be de-imagined and re-imagined." In the same essay written for Time Magazine Shafak 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."
Feminism and women's rights
An advocate of women's equality and freedom, Shafak herself grew up with two different models of womanhood—her modern, working, educated mother and her traditional, religious grandmother. Her writing has always addressed minorities and subcultures, such as post-colonialism and post-feminism, and in particular the role of women in society.
Following the birth of her daughter in 2006, Shafak suffered from postpartum depression, a period she addressed in her memoir, Black Milk: On Motherhood, Writing and the Harem Within, which combines fiction and non-fiction genres. Shafak has commented, "I named this book Black Milk for two reasons. First, it deals with postpartum depression and shows that mother's milk is not always as white and spotless as society likes to think it is. Second, out of that depression I was able to get an inspiration; out of that black milk I was able to develop some sort of ink." In an interview with William Skidelsky for The Guardian, she said: "In Turkey, men write and women read. I want to see this change."
Freedom of speech
Shafak is an advocate of women's rights, minority rights, and freedom of expression. In an English PEN letter to protest against Turkey's Twitter ban she commented:,"Turkey's politicians need to understand that democracy is not solely about getting a majority of votes in the ballot box. Far beyond that, democracy is a culture of inclusiveness, openness, human rights and freedom of speech, for each and every one, regardless of whichever party they might have voted for. It is the realization of the very core of democracy that is lacking in today's Turkey". Shafak was one of the world authors who signed the open letter in protest against Putin's anti-gay and blasphemy laws before Sochi 2014. While taking part in the Free Speech Debate she commented, "I am more interested in showing the things we have in common as fellow human beings, sharing the same planet and ultimately, the same sorrows and joys rather than adding yet another brick in the imaginary walls erected between cultures/religions/ethnicities."
Shafak is a speaker and writer on global politics, the dangers of populism, tribalism, and nationalism. Writing for The New Yorker she said, "Although the Turkish case is in some ways uniquely depressing, it is part of a much larger trend. Wave after wave of nationalism, isolationism, and tribalism have hit the shores of countries across Europe, and they have reached the United States. Jingoism and xenophobia are on the rise. It is an Age of Angst—and it is a short step from angst to anger and from anger to aggression."
Mysticism, East and West
Shafak blends Eastern and Western ways of storytelling, and blends oral and written culture. In The Washington Post, Ron Charles says, "Shafak speaks in a multivalent voice that captures the roiling tides of diverse cultures. And, of course, as readers know from her previous novels 'The Architect's Apprentice' and 'The Bastard of Istanbul,' it helps that she's a terrifically engaging storyteller." Vogue says, "Elif Shafak has been building a body of work that needles her country's historical amnesia."
Awards and recognition
- 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World, winner of the Bottari Lattes Grinzane Prize, 2020; 
- 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World, shortlisted for the RSL Ondaatje Prize, 2020;
- 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World, shortlisted for the Booker Prize, 2019;
- 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World, The Blackwell's Book of the Year, 2019;
- The Architect's Apprentice, shortlisted for RSL Ondaatje Prize, 2015;
- The Architect's Apprentice, longlisted for Walter Scott Historical Novel Prize, 2015;
- Honour, second place for the Prix Escapade, France 2014;
- Honour, longlisted for International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, 2013;
- Crime d'honneur (Phébus, 2013), 2013 Prix Relay des voyageurs;
- Honour, longlisted for Women's Prize for Fiction, 2013;
- Honour, longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize, 2012;
- The Forty Rules of Love, nominated for 2012 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award;
- Soufi, mon amour (Phébus, 2011), Prix ALEF – Mention Spéciale Littérature Etrangère;
- The Bastard of Istanbul, longlisted for Orange Prize for Fiction, London 2008;
- The Gaze, longlisted for Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, United Kingdom 2007;
- The Flea Palace, shortlisted 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.
This listings of the title subject's accolades, e.g., ECFR and Weforum/Davos appearances, here and in several sections above may contain too much repetition or redundant language.December 2019) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)(
- Caravan Award for Peacebuilding Through the Arts, 2017;
- Prize for Tolerance in Thinking and Acting, Prize of Honour of the Austrian Booksellers, 2017;
- Lahore Literary Festival Lifetime Achievement Award, 2016;
- Granted the Seal of the City and Certificate of Commendation by the City of Milan, 2016;
- 2016 GTF Awards for Excellence in Promoting Gender Equality;
- Asian Women of Achievement Awards 2015: Global Empowerment Award;
- Women To Watch Award, Mediacat & Advertising Age, March 2014;
- Turkish American Society Young Society Leader, 2013;
- Chevalier Des Arts et Lettres, 2010;[repetition]
- Marka Conference 2010 Award;
- Ambassador of Culture Action Europe Campaign, 2010;
- Special Envoy, EU-Turkey Cultural Bridges Programme, 2010;
- Board Member of Free Word Centre, promoting literacy, literature and freedom of expression, 2015-2018;
- Turkish Journalists and Writers Foundation "The Art of Coexistence Award, 2009";
- International Rising Talent, Women's Forum – Deauville, France 2009;
- Maria Grazia Cutuli Award – International Journalism Prize, Italy 2006.
- Member of English PEN;[when?]
- Cultural ambassador for The Ottoman Orient in Renaissance Art/BOZAR;[when?]
- Member of the Folio Academy;[when?]
- Member of Weforum Global Agenda Council on The Role of Arts in Society, DAVOS;[repetition][when?]
- Joined Future Library,[when?] writing piece to be unveiled in 2114;[repetition]
- Member of Berggruen Prize Award Committee;
- WOW committee member;[clarification needed][when?] and
- Founding member of ECFR (European Council on Foreign Relations);[repetition][when?]
Shafak has lived in Istanbul, and in the United States—in Boston, Michigan, and Arizona—before moving to the UK. Shafak has lived in London since 2013, but speaks of "carr[ying] Istanbul in her soul."
|Kem Gözlere Anadolu||1994||Evrensel||9789757837299|
|Mahrem||2000||Metis||975-342-285-7||The Gaze||2006||Marion Boyars Publishers Ltd||978-0714531212|
|Bit Palas||2002||Metis||975-342-354-3||The Flea Palace||2007||Marion Boyars Publishers Ltd||978 0714531205|
|Araf||2004||Metis||978-975-342-465-3||The Saint of Incipient Insanities||2004||Farrar, Straus and Giroux||0-374-25357-9|
|Beşpeşe (with Murathan Mungan, Faruk Ulay, Celil Oker and Pınar Kür)||2004||Metis||975-342-467-1|
|Baba ve Piç||2006||Metis||978-975-342-553-7||The Bastard of Istanbul||2007||Viking||0-670-03834-2|
|Siyah Süt||2007||Doğan||975-991-531-6||Black Milk: On Writing, Motherhood, and the Harem Within||2011||Viking||0-670-02264-0|
|Aşk||2009||Doğan||978-605-111-107-0||The Forty Rules of Love: A Novel of Rumi||2010||Viking||0-670-02145-8|
|The Happiness of Blond People: A Personal Meditation on the Dangers of Identity||2011||Penguin||9780670921768|
|Ustam ve Ben||2013||Doğan||978-605-09-1803-8||The Architect's Apprentice||2014||Viking||978-024-100-491-3|
|Havva'nın Üç Kızı||2016||Doğan||978-605-09-3537-0||Three Daughters of Eve||2016||Viking||978-024-128-804-7|
|Sanma ki Yalnızsın||2018||Doğan||978-605-095-146-2|
|On Dakika Otuz Sekiz Saniye||2019||Doğan||978-605-096-309-0||10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World||2019||Viking||978-024-129-386-7|
|Aşkın Kırk Kuralı (compilation based on Aşk)||2019||Doğan Novus||978-605-095-864-5|
|How to Stay Sane in an Age of Division||2020||Welcome Collection / Profile Books||978-178-816-572-3|
NOTE: Marion Boyars Publishers Ltd was bought out by Viking in 2011.
- "Elif Shafak". Curtis Brown. Retrieved 17 May 2018.
- Her name is spelled Shafak (with the digraph ⟨sh⟩ in place of the ⟨ş⟩) on her books published in English, including the Penguin Books edition of The Forty Rules of Love
- "Elif Şafak honored at French Embassy". Hürriyet Daily News. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
- "Elif Shafak's TED Talks". TED. TED. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
- "World Economic Forum: Elif Shafak". World Economic Forum. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
- https://www.ecfr.eu/page/-/ECFR-04_AFGHANISTAN_-_EUROPES_FORGOTTEN_WAR.pdf The list of the founding members is on page 41
- http://www.realinstitutoelcano.org/wps/wcm/connect/4572b4004f018d7496caf63170baead1/MaximNews-com+(11-11-2007).pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=4572b4004f018d7496caf63170baead1; MaximNews Network ECFR: EUROPEAN COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS LAUNCHED: 11/11/2007.pdf. The list of the founding members start on page 4, author's name is the 40th at the list
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- https://tez.yok.gov.tr/UlusalTezMerkezi/giris.jsp thesis number:53420
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- Flood, Alison (31 May 2019). "Turkey puts novelists including Elif Shafak under investigation". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 1 June 2019.
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- "Browser Fiction","The Irish Times",21 April 2012
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- "Best books of 2017: critics' picks". Financial Times. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
- "Elif Shafak: Three Daughters of Eve with Siri Hustvedt". Livestream.
- http://www3.weforum.org/docs/Media/AM17/am17_programme_0901.pdf page 75
- FM, Player. "Elif Shafak Desert Island Discs podcast". player.fm.
- Shafak, Elif. "Elif Shafak | Speaker | TED". www.ted.com.
- Flood, Alison (27 October 2017). "Elif Shafak joins Future Library, writing piece to be unveiled in 2114". The Guardian.
- https://d3v4sx4i2y2qe1.cloudfront.net/content/programme_pdfs/2017-edinburgh-international-book-festival-brochure.593ecae2f105b.pdf page 3
- International Booker Prize#2017
- "Elif Safak Quotes","AZ Quotes"
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- Shafak, Elif (31 July 2006). "Pulled by Two Tides". Time Magazine. Retrieved 10 December 2010.
- Shafak, Elif (13 May 2010). "The Essay: Postcards from Istanbul". BBC Radio 3. Retrieved 10 December 2010.
- Abrams, Rebecca (18 June 2010). "Elif Shafak: Motherhood is sacred in Turkey". the Guardian. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
- "Breaking down the boundaries". The Sydney Morning Herald. 17 March 2010.
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- "Major authors express Turkey concern". thebookseller.com.
- Alison Flood. "Sochi 2014: world authors join protest against Putin". the Guardian.
- "Elif Shafak on our common humanity". Free Speech Debate.
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- Charles, Ron (11 December 2017). "Elif Shafak's new novel is so timely that it seems almost clairvoyant". The Washington Post. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
- "Atwood and Rushdie on Booker Prize shortlist". BBC News. 3 September 2019.
- Kerr, Michael (30 April 2015). "Ondaatje Prize 2015: shortlist announced". Telegraph.
- "Longlist announced". Walter Scott Prize.
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- "Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction » Honour". womensprizeforfiction.co.uk. Archived from the original on 18 February 2015. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 25 July 2013. Retrieved 28 August 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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- "News of the world: Independent Foreign Fiction Prize". The Independent. London. 19 January 2007.
- "Caravan Award for Peacebuilding Through the Arts, 2017".
- "Global Thinkers Forum: Awards for Excellence 2016". Global Thinkers Forum.
- Minter, Harriet; et al. (20 May 2015). "Asian women of achievement awards 2015: meet the winners". The Guardian.
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- Salter, Jessica (14 November 2014). "Elif Shafak: 'I believe I'm not a good wife but I'm OK with that'". The Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
- "Elif Şafak - Marka 2010 Ödülü" – via www.youtube.com.
- "GYV". gyv.org.tr. Archived from the original on 18 February 2015.
- https://www.womens-forum.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/rising-talent-yearbook.pdf p. 115
- Today’s Zaman, 28 October 2006, Saturday / Anadolu News Agency (AA), Roma.
- Flood, Alison (27 October 2017). "Elif Shafak joins Future Library, writing piece to be unveiled in 2114". The Guardian.
- Salter, Jessica."11527563 Elif Shafak: 'I believe I'm not a good wife but I'm OK with that","The Telegraph",14 November 2014
- My recipe for marriage: a husband who lives 1,500 miles away, says writer Elif Shafak. Evening Standard, 29 August 2013
- Kate, Kellaway (2 May 2017). "Elif Shafak: 'When women are divided it is the male status quo that benefits'". The Guardian New Review. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
- Elif Shafak: Happily married, 1,500 miles apart. Red, 2 February 2017
- "Elif Şafak: Bugüne dek biseksüel olduğumu hiç söyleyemedim". www.hurriyet.com.tr.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Elif Shafak|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Elif Şafak.|
- Elif Shafak – official site (in English)
- Elif Shafak – official site (in Turkish)
- Elif Shafak at Curtis Brown Literary and Talent Agency
- Elif Shafak at TED
- "The politics of fiction" (TEDGlobal 2010)
- Elif Shafak on Twitter
- CNN Elif Shafak on The Power of Stories at TED
- Elif Shafak's Istanbul, CNN International
- Rebecca Abrams, "Elif Shafak: Motherhood is sacred in Turkey", The Guardian, 19 June 2010
- Elif Shafak 'Read My Country', BBC Radio World Service The Strand
- Novel excerpt in Bosphorus Art Project Quarterly
- Book Preview: Elif Shafak's "Black Milk": On Writing, Motherhood and the Harem Within, Qantara.de
- Urdu Translations of Elif Shafak's books, Jumhoori Publications
- Elif Shafak: 'In Turkey, men write and women read. I want to see this change'
- Ad Age's Women To Watch 2014, Advertising Age
- Ondaatje Prize 2015: shortlist announced, Telegraph
- Asian women of achievement awards 2015, Guardian