WORDS WEEKEND REVIEW: Elif Shafak @ Sage Gateshead (07.12.19) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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An on-stage conversation between award-winning British-Turkish novelist Elif Shafak (who holds a PhD in political science) and Chi Onwurah, Labour Candidate for Newcastle-upon-Tyne Central was never going to be anything other than political. In fact, the opening message to the audience is that everything is political, and the reality for Elif Shafak growing up in a non-democratic regime has always been political. Here in the UK, believing we can avoid ‘doing’ politics is a delusion (“politics is already doing us,” remarks Chi).

Elif shares how she’s lived as the outsider insider, having been raised in France and Turkey and now as a Londoner. She explains beautifully how her latest novel, 10 Minutes 38 Seconds In This Strange World, was inspired by the Graveyard of Companions, where the deceased outsider becomes a fading number on a marker; it becomes clear she’s a storyteller with an insatiable curiosity for fleshing out the life of the ‘other’.

Allowing her evocative and uplifting stories to empower the disempowered, Elif has become known as an advocate for the ‘other’ (and has stood trial in Turkey as a result). Alongside these two women of influence, we’re invited to embrace the pessimism of the intellect and the optimism of the heart, as we recognise the power of stories to make a real difference.

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