First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther. Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.


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“In the pulsating moments after she has been murdered and left in a dumpster outside Istanbul, Tequila Leila enters a state of heightened awareness. Her heart has stopped beating but her brain is still active – for 10 minutes 38 seconds. While the Turkish sun rises and her friends sleep soundly nearby, she remembers her life – and the lives of other,s outcasts like her.

Tequila Leila’s memory bring us back to her childhood in the provinces, a highly oppressive milieu of religion and traditions, shaped by a polygamous family with two others and an increasingly authoritarian father. Escaping to Istabbul, Leila makes her way into the sordid industry of sex trafficking, finding a home in the city’s historic Street of Brothels. This is a dark, violent world, but Leila is tough and open to beauty, light, and the essential bonds of friendship.

In Tequila Leila’s death, the secrets and wonders of modern Istanbul come to life, painted vividly by the captivating tales of how Leila came to know and be love by her friends. As her epic journey to the afterlife comes to an end, it is her chosen family who brings her story to a buoyant and breathtaking conclusion.

We’re just ten days into the year but I am already on my third book; a big pat on the back for this unlikely achievement. Yay! Anyway, the subject of this week’s First Impression Friday post is the 2019 Man Booker Prize shortlisted 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World.

Whilst this is my first venture into the world of British-Turkish novelist Elif Shafak, this is not the first time I have encountered her as I also bought a copy of one of her works, The Bastard of Istanbul. Unfortunately, I never got around to reading the work. But the point is moot and now I find myself immersed in her most recent work. And a Man Booker Prize shortlisted one at that.

The first few pages of the book immediately set the tone of the story and the premise upon which it was written. The reader is introduced to Tequila Leila who the readers finds bloodied and murdered, dumped on a rubbish bin somewhere in the suburbs of Istanbul, waiting for a random stranger to uncover her lifeless body. Tequila Leila is, rather was, a sex worker by trade.

The story’s structure is bold and, personally, an excellent one. At least at the start. Tequila Leila’s story is being told through flash backs in every minute post-death. By the way, the 10 minutes 38 seconds in the book’s title refer to the time frame post-death where brain wave activities were still detected. These observations were documented in a research paper published in the Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences. That is enough to pique my curiosity.

I am currently in the fourth minute post-death. What I like about books like this are there indulgences in subjects that are critical to the region wherein the story is set. To the ordinary person, these subjects would be inconsequential but to the denizens, they mean a lot. I can already feel the longer reverberations of the book from the subtle undertones at the start.

There is definitely more to the story than just the murder of a prostitute. I can surmise that there are bigger subjects to be dealt with as the story progresses. The story, after all, starts in in the 1950s, when Turkey’s social and political climate is still unstable. The story reminds me of Nobel Prize in Literature winner Orhan Pamuk’s Snow. So far, the story holds so much promise. I hope it sustains my interest in the end.

How about you fellow reader, what boo/s are you reading this weekend? I hope you get to enjoy it as well. Happy weekend reading!