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Elif Shafak

Elif Shafak, writer, is interviewed by Kirsty Young for Desert Island Discs. She has published ten novels and is the most widely-read female novelist in Turkey today.

Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the Turkish writer Elif Shafak.

Elif Shafak has published ten novels and several volumes of non-fiction and her work is translated into 47 languages. She is the most widely read female novelist in Turkey today.

Born in 1971, she was raised by a single working mother and also, for the first ten years of her life, by her grandmother in Ankara. Her mother's job as a diplomat led to a move to Madrid when Elif was ten years old - and so began a peripatetic life which has taken her to places as diverse as Jordan and Germany, the United States and finally to London where she has lived for the past seven years.

Elif wrote her first novels in Turkish, but began writing in English shortly after the start of the new millennium. English, she says, has given her a new freedom to write about sensitive issues in Turkey. Her books draw on diverse cultures and reflect her interest in history, philosophy, spiritualism and Sufism. One commentator has said of her work: "Stepping into the writing of this Turkish-born author for the first time is like breaking through the back of a children's wardrobe and walking into a whole new multicultural world of lives and histories - and, above all, fabulous stories."

She is a regular columnist both for English as well as Turkish papers and also writes lyrics for rock musicians.

Producer: Sarah Taylor.

Available now

35 minutes

Last on

Fri 2 Jun 2017 09:00

Music Played


    • Leonard Cohen

      Famous Blue Raincoat

      • Songs of Love and Hate.
      • Sony.
  • Noir Désir

    Le vent nous portera

    • Des Visages Des Figures.
    • Universal Music International.
  • Tetos Dimitriadis


    • The Rebetiko Songs in America Vol. 1 - 1920 - 1940.
    • FM Records.
  • Apocalyptica

    Nothing Else Matters

    • Amplified: A Decade of Reinventing the Cello.
    • Sony.
  • Radiohead


    • Creep.
    • Parlophone.
  • System of a Down

    Chop Suey!

    • Toxicity.
    • Sony.
  • Mumford & Sons


    • Babel.
    • Universal Island.
  • Arch Enemy

    War Eternal

    • War Eternal.
    • Century Media.

    Orlando by Virginia Woolf


    A stationery cupboard


Role Contributor
Presenter Kirsty Young
Interviewed Guest Elif Shafak
Producer Sarah Taylor


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