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Elif Shafak - The Forty Rules of Love

28 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 07 April 2013

Turkey's leading female novelist Elif Shafak discusses her novel The Forty Rules of Love.

The novel is about finding love and is written in two strands. One is the friendship between a whirling dervish and the Sufi poet Rumi in 13th century Anatolia; the other is about a mother in contemporary America who finds inspiration in the historical story to break away from an unhappy life.

Amazingly, Elif wrote the book in English, which she first learnt at the age of ten. She then worked with professional translators to write it again in Turkish.

Elif Shafak explains the importance of Sufi mysticism in the novel and in her life. She talks about the influence of her grandmother's superstitions, about the transformation of modern Turkey and how she was prosecuted - and acquitted - in 2006 for 'denigrating Turkish national identity' because of her writing.

First published in 2010, The Forty Rules of Love has now been translated into over 30 languages.

James Naughtie presents and a group of readers ask the questions.

May's Bookclub choice : Ice by Gillian Clarke

Producer : Dymphna Flynn.

  • Radio 4 Blog

    James Naughtie on Elif Shafak, writer of The Forty Rules of Love.


James Naughtie
Dymphna Flynn
Interviewed Guest
Elif Shafak


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