Elif Safak

Elif Safak [1] ( Turkish: [elif ʃafak] ; born 25 October 1971) is a Turkish author, columnist, speaker and academic.

Safak has published 15 books, 10 or welke are novels. She writes fiction in zowel Turkish and English . Safak blends Western and Eastern traditions of storytelling in stories of women, minderheden, immigrants, subcultures, and youth. Her writing draws on various cultures and literary traditions, reflecting interests in history, philosophy, Sufism, all culture, and cultural politics. Safak ook uses black humor . [2] She was Awarded the title of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2010.


Early life

Safak was born Elif Bilgin in Strasbourg to philosopher Nuri Bilgin and Safak Atayman, who later became a Diplomat. When she was a year old re parents separated and Safak was raised by a single mother. [3] She says not growing up in a Typical patriarchal family had a great impact on re work and writing. She incorporated re mother’s first name-Turkish for ” dawn ” -with re own-when constructing re pen names .

Safak spent re teenage years in Madrid and Amman voordat returning to Turkey. She has lived around the world- Boston , Massachusetts , Arizona , Istanbul and London -and re writing has thrived upon synthesis journeys. She sees herself as not just Migrating from country to country, city to city but taal language, even in her native Turkish she convinced she plays to the vocabularies or différent cultures. Through it all she has Maintained a deep attachment to the city of Istanbul, welke plays an important part in her fiction. As a result, a sense of multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism has consistently characterized zowel re life and re work. In the Huffington Post she defended the cosmopolitan ideal as follows: ‘Instead of Reducing ourselves to the binary Opposition or identity politics , we need to do the exact Opposite: multiply our attachments and affiliations. ” [4]

Private life

She lives with re husband and two children and Divides re-time tussen Istanbul and London.



Elif Safak has published 15 books, 10 or welke are novels.

Safak’s first novel, Pinhan (The Hidden) was Awarded the Rumi Prize in 1998, [5] welke is to be found to the best work in mystical literature in Turkey. Her second novel, Şehrin Aynaları (Mirrors of the City), tells the story of a family or Spanish conversos, Brings together Jewish and Islamic mysticism Against a historical setting in the 17th century Mediterranean. Safak greatly Increased re Readership with re novel Mahrem ( The Gaze ) welke earned re the “Best Novel – Turkish Writers’ Union Prize in 2000 [6] Her next novel, Bit Palas ( The Flea Palace , 2002), has footed a bestseller in Turkey and was shortlisted for Independent Best Foreign Fiction in 2005. [7] [8] [9]

Safak wrote re next novel in English, The Saint of Incipient Insanities , welke was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2004.

Her second novel in English, The Bastard of Istanbul , was the Bestselling book of 2006 Turkey and was longlisted for the Orange Prize . [10] In the novel, Safak addresses the Armenian genocide , welke is systematically denied by the Turkish government. Safak was prosecuted on charges of “insulting Turkishness” ( Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code ) for discus the genocide in the novel. If convicted, she mention anything about port faced a maximum jail term of three years. Volgens to The Guardian , “[ The Bastard of Istanbul ] is perhaps the first Turkish novel to deal rechtstreeks with the massacres, atrocities and deportations dat decimated the country’s Armenian population in the last years of Ottoman rule.” Safak stated de volgende Regarding The Bastard of Istanbul and the charges therein ulcers Twice Filed Against re: “The overt reason is my latest novel and the critical tone of the book. The latent reason is Deeper and more complex. I harbor leg active and outspoken on verschillende ‘taboo’ issues, critical or ultranationalism and all sorts of rigid ideologies , zoals Those coming from the Kemalist elite, and I Have Maintained a public presence on minority rights , met name on the Armenian question . It is a whole package. ” [11] [12] [13]

Following the birth or re daughter in 2006 she suffers from post-natal depression, an experience she addressed in her first autobiographical book, Siyah Sut ( Black Milk ). In this book Safak Explored the beauties and difficulties of being a writer and a mother. The book was RECEIVED with great interest and Acclaim by critics and readers alike, and became an instant bestseller.

Safak’s novel The Forty Rules of Love dealing with love in the light of Rumi and Shams of Tabriz . It sold morethan 750,000 copies, Becoming an all-time bestseller in Turkey [14] and in France was Awarded a Prix Alef * – Mention Spéciale Literature éTRANGèRE. [15] It was ook nominated for the 2012 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. [16] Her next novel Honour dealing with an honor killing story, 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. [17] [18] “Shafak’s wonderfully expressive prose, sprinkled Throughout with Turkish words and phrases, Brings the characters to life in zoals a way dat readers will feel they ‘are living the roles. “. [19] DESCRIBED as a “writer on the edge or re culture” [20] Safak’s most recent 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, als Istanbul was the teeming center of civilization, The Architect’s Apprentice is a magical, sweeping language or one boy and his elephant caught up in a world of wonder and danger.” [21]


Safak is a regular contributor to major Newspapers in Turkey as well as international verschillende daily and weekly publications, zoals The Guardian website. She has leg featured in major Newspapers and periodicals, zoals the Washington Times , the Wall Street Journal , The New York Times , The Financial Times , The Huffington Post , The Economist and The Guardian . Her Nonfiction work covers a wide range of topics, zoals reward, identity, gender, mental ghettoes, daily life politics, multicultural literature and the art of coexistence. These essays port leg Collected in three books: Med-Cezir (2005), Firarperest (2010), Şemspare (2012).

Elif Safak holds verschillende social, academic roles. She is an active social media figures with 1.6 million Twitter followers. Besides re professional titles, she is a TED Global speaker, founding member of Electricity folder (European Council on Foreign Relations); member of Weforum Global Agenda Council on The Role of Arts in Society; the 2013 judging panel for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the 2014 judging panel for the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award; Ambassador of Culture Action Europe Campaign, 2010; Special Envoy for EU-Turkey Cultural Bridges Programme, 2010. She was Awarded the honorary Distinction of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters in 2010.



Istanbul has always leg a central part of Safak’s writing. She depicts the city as a “She-city ‘and Likens re to an old woman with a young heart who is eternally hungry for new stories and new loves. Safak has remarked: “Istanbul makes one comprehend, perhaps not intellectually but intuitively, dat East and West are ultimately imaginary concepts, and thereby kan be de-imagined and re-imagined.” [22] In the co-essay written for Time Magazine Safak says: “East and West are no water and oil. Way Down do mix. And in a city like Istanbul ze mix intensely, incessantly, Amazingly.” [22]

In a piece she wrote for the BBC , she zegt, “Istanbul is like a huge, colorful Matrushka – you open it and find Another doll inside. You open therein, only to see a new doll nesting. It is a hall of mirrors where nothing is quite what it seems. One arnt be Cautious als using categories to talk about Istanbul. If there is one thing the city does not like, it’s cliches. ” [23]


Boyd Tonkin in The Independent DESCRIBED Safak as a “writer who weds the modern and the mystic.” [24] Safak first became interested in Sufism as a college student in her early 20s, and it has reverberated through re writing and re life ever since . In The Forty Rules of Love , she tackles the subject head on with a modern love story tussen a Jewish-American Housewife and a modern Sufi living in Amsterdam . Their unusual story is set Against a historical background dat narrates the remarkable spiritual bond tussen Rumi and Shams Tabrizi . She zegt in an interview bepaald to The Guardian , “The more you read about Sufism, the more u have to listen. In time I became emotionally attached. When I was Younger I was not interested in understanding the world. I only wanted to change it, through feminism or nihilism or environmentalism. But the more I read about Sufism the more I unlearned. Because therein is what Sufism does to you, it makes you erase what you know, what you are so sure of. Gather a couple starts thinking again. Not with your mind this time, but with your heart. ” [25]

Motherhood, feminism and post-feminism

An advocate of women’s equality and freedom, Safak herself Grew up with two différent models of woman hood – re modern, working, educated mother and re traditional, religious grandmother. Her writing has always addressed minderheden and subcultures, zoals post Kolonialisme and post-feminism, and mn the role of women in society.

Following the birth or re daughter in 2006 she suffers from postpartum depression, a period she dan addressed in her memoir, Black Milk: On Motherhood, Writing and the Harem Within welke combineert fiction and non-fiction genres. Safak has commented Concerning the book: “I named this book Black Milk for two reasons. First, it deals with postpartum depression and shows dat mother’s milk is not always as white and spotless as society likes is to think it. Second, out of that depression I was loveable to get an inspiration, out of that black milk I was loveable to developement some sort of ink. ” [26] In an interview with William Skidelsky for The Guardian, she zegt: “In Turkey, we write and read women. I want to see this change.” [27]

Freedom of speech

Safak is an advocate of women’s rights , minority rights and freedom of expression . In an English PEN letter to protest Turkey’s Twitter ban she commented: “Turkey’s politicians need to under stand dat democracy is not solely about getting a Majority of votes in the Ballot Box. Far beyond dat, democracy is a culture of inclusiveness, openness, human rights and freedom of speech, for lycra and everytime one, Regardless of whichever party They Might harbor voted for. It is the realization of the very core of democracy dat is Lacking in today’s Turkey. ” [28] Safak was one of the world authors who signed the open letter protesting Against Putin’s anti-gay and Blasphemy laws voordat Sochi 2014. [29] Taking part in the Free Speech Debate, als Asked about re role as a writer, she commented: “I am more interested in showing the things we harbor in common as fellow human beings, sharing the co planet and ultimately, the co Sorrows and JOYS Rather dan Adding yet Another brick in the imaginary walls erected tussen cultures / religions / ethnicities. ” [30]

Awards and recognition

  • Asian Women of Achievement Awards 2015: Global Empowerment Award
  • The Architect’s Apprentice , longlisted for Walter Scott Historical Novel Prize, 2015 [31]
  • Honour , second place for the Prix Escapade, France in 2014 [32]
  • Honour , longlisted for International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, 2013 [33]
  • 2013 Prix Relay des voyageurs, Crime d’honneur (Phebus), 2013 [34]
  • Honour , longlisted for Women’s Prize for Fiction, 2013 [35]
  • Honour , longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize, 2012 [36]
  • The Forty Rules of Love , nominated for 2012 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award [37]
  • Prix Aleph – Mention Spéciale Literature éTRANGèRE, Soufi, mon amour (Phebus), 2011 [38]
  • Marka 2010 Award, Turkey
  • Chevalier des Arts et Lettres [39]
  • Turkish Journalists and Writers Foundation ‘The Art of Coexistence Award 2009 ” [40]
  • The Bastard of Istanbul , longlisted for Orange Prize for Fiction , London in 2008 [10]
  • The Gaze , longlisted for Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, United Kingdom in 2007 [41]
  • Maria Grazia Cutuli Award – International Journalism Prize, Italy in 2006 [42]
  • The Flea Palace , shortlisted for Independent Foreign Fiction Prize , United Kingdom 2005
  • The Gaze , Union of Turkish Writers’ Best Novel Prize, 2000 [6]
  • Pinhan The Great Rumi Award, Turkey in 1998 [5]


  • Kem Gözlere Anadolu , 1994, Evrensel, ISBN 9789757837299
  • Pinhan , 1997, Metis, ISBN 975-342-297-0
  • Şehrin Aynaları , 1999, Metis, ISBN 975-342-298-9
  • Mahrem , 2000, Metis, ISBN 975-342-285-7
  • Bit Palas , 2002 Metis, ISBN 975-342-354-3
  • Araf , 2004 Metis, ISBN 978-975-342-465-3
  • Beşpeşe 2004, Metis, ISBN 975-342-467-1 (with Murathan Mungan , Faruk Ulay, Celil Oker and Pinar Kur )
  • Med-Cezir , 2005, Metis, ISBN 975-342-533-3
  • Baba ve Pic , 2006 Metis, ISBN 978-975-342-553-7
  • Siyah Sut , 2007 Doğan, ISBN 975-991-531-6
  • Aşk (Translation of The Forty Rules of Love: A Novel of Rumi ), 2009 Doğan, ISBN 978-605-111-107-0
  • Kâğıt Helva 2010, Doğan, ISBN 978-605-111-426-2
  • Firarperest 2010, Doğan, ISBN 978-605-111-902-1
  • İskender (translation or Honour ), 2011 Doğan, ISBN 978-605-090-251-8
  • Şemspare , 2012, Doğan, ISBN 978-605-090-799-5
  • Ustam Fr Ben , 2013 Doğan, ISBN 978-605-09-1803-8
  • Sakız Sardunya , 2014 Doğan, ISBN 978-605-09-2291-2
  • Havva’nın UC Kızı , 2016 Doğan, ISBN 978-605-09-3537-0
  • The Saint or Incipient Insanities 2004, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, ISBN 0-374-25357-9
  • The Gaze (Translation of Mahrem ) 2006, Marion Boyars Publishers Ltd, ISBN 978-0714531212
  • The Flea Palace , 2007 Marion Boyars Publishers Ltd, ISBN 0714531205 978
  • The Bastard of Istanbul (Translation of Baba ve Pic ) 2007, Viking, ISBN 0-670-03834-2
  • The Forty Rules of Love: A Novel of Rumi , 2010, Viking, ISBN 0-670-02145-8
  • Black Milk: On Writing, Motherhood, and the Harem Within 2011, Viking, ISBN 0-670-02264-0
  • The Happiness of Blond People: A Personal Meditation on the Dangers of Identity , 2011, Penguin, ASIN B0069YVWOE
  • Honour , 2012, Viking, ISBN 0-670-92115-7
  • The Architect’s Apprentice , 2014, Viking, ISBN 9780241004913

NOTE: Marion Boyars Publishers Ltd. was Bought out by Viking in 2011.


  1. Jump up^ Her name is spelledShafak(with the digraph ⟨sh⟩ in place of the ⟨S⟩) on re books published in English, zoals the Penguin Books edition of “The Forty Rules of Love”
  2. Jump up^ Freely, Maureen (2006-08-13). “Writers on Trial” . The New York Times . Retrieved 2010-05-01 .
  3. Jump up^ Finkel, Andrew. “Portrait of Elif Safak” . Turkish Cultural Foundation . Retrieved 2010-12-10 .
  4. Jump up^ “The Urgency of a Cosmopolitan Ideal as Nationalism Surges” . The Huffington Post .
  5. ^ Jump up to:a b “Mevlana büyük ödülleri – Bilgi ve Eğlence Portalınız – Porttakal” . porttakal.com .
  6. ^ Jump up to:a b http://www.tyb.org.tr/tyb-odulleri/2000-yili-yilin-yazar-fikir-adami-ve-sanatcilari-odulu
  7. Jump up^ “Stress the literary globe” . The Independent . London. 2005-03-04.
  8. Jump up^ name = “marionboyars.co.uk”http://www.marionboyars.co.uk/Amy%20Pages/Bookseller%20Article.html
  9. Jump up^ Elif Shafak. “The Gaze” . Goodreads .
  10. ^ Jump up to:a b “Orange newsroom – Orange Broadband Prize For Fiction Announces 2008 Long List” . orange.co.uk .
  11. Jump up^ Fowler, Susanne (2006-09-15). “Turkey, a TOUCHY Critic, Plans to Put a Novel on Trial” . The New York Times . Retrieved 2011-08-23 .
  12. Jump up^ Lea, Richard (2006-07-24). “In Istanbul, a writer awaits re day in court”. The Guardian . London . Retrieved 2011-08-23 .
  13. Jump up^ Burch, Nick (2006-09-22). “Judge throws out charges Against Turkish novelist” . The Guardian . London . Retrieved 2011-08-23 .
  14. Jump up^ “Edebiyatta Rector Aşk 200 bin sattı” . hurriyet.com.tr .
  15. Jump up^ “Prix Aleph – Mention Spéciale Literature éTRANGèRE” . prix-litteraires.net .
  16. Jump up^ http://www.impacdublinaward.ie/2012/longlist.htm
  17. Jump up^ “Curtis Brown website” . Retrieved 2012-03-04 .
  18. Jump up^ “Penguin Books website” . Retrieved 2012-03-04 .
  19. Jump up^ “Fiction Book Review: Honor at Elif Shafak. Viking, $ 26.95 (342p) ISBN 978-0-670-78483-7” . PublishersWeekly.com .
  20. Jump up^ http://www.wildriverreview.com/INTERVIEW/Elif-Shafak/A-Writer-on-the-Edge-of-Her-Culture/Angie-Brenner.
  21. Jump up^ Elif Shafak (6 November 2014). “The Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak – Waterstones.com” . waterstones.com .
  22. ^ Jump up to:a b Shafak, Elif (2006-07-31). “Pulled in Two Tides” . Time Magazine . Retrieved 2010-12-10 .
  23. Jump up^ Shafak, Elif (2010-05-13). “The Essay: Postcards from Istanbul” . BBC Radio 3 . Retrieved 2010-12-10 .
  24. Jump up^ “An Interview with Elif Shafak” . Bianet – Bagimsiz İletişim Agi .
  25. Jump up^ Abrams, Rebecca (2010-06-19). “Elif Shafak: Motherhood is sacred in Turkey” . The Guardian . London . Retrieved 2010-12-10 .
  26. Jump up^ “Breaking down the boundaries” . The Sydney Morning Herald . 2010-03-17.
  27. Jump up^ William Skidelsky. “Elif Shafak:” In Turkey, we write and read women. I want to see this change ‘ ‘ . the Guardian .
  28. Jump up^ “Major authors express Turkey Group” . thebookseller.com .
  29. Jump up^ Alison Flood. “Sochi 2014: World authors join protests Against Putin”.the Guardian.
  30. Jump up^ “Elif Shafak on our common humanity” . Free Speech Debate .
  31. Jump up^ “Long List announced” . Walter Scott Prize .
  32. Jump up^ “Les authors” . salonlivre-vernon.org .
  33. Jump up^ “Honour” . impacdublinaward.ie . Archived from the original on 2014-02-01.
  34. Jump up^ “Crime d’honneur, LAUREAT du Prix Relay 2013 – Prix des Voyageurs Relay Lecteurs” . prixrelay.com .
  35. Jump up^ “BAILEYS Women’s Prize for Fiction» Honour ” . womensprizeforfiction.co.uk .
  36. Jump up^ http://www.manasianliteraryprize.org/news/2012/12/3/2012-man-asian-literary-prize-longlist-displays-the-literary.html
  37. Jump up^ “International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award” . impacdublinaward.ie .
  38. Jump up^ “Elif Shafak” . prix-litteraires.net .
  39. Jump up^ Salter, Jessica (14 November 2014). “Elif Shafak:” I believe I’m not a good wife but I’m OK with dat ‘ ” . The Daily Telegraph . Telegraph Media Group . Retrieved 18 September 2015 .
  40. Jump up^ “GYV” . gyv.org.tr . Archived from the original on 2015-02-18.
  41. Jump up^ “News of the World: Independent Foreign Fiction Prize” . The Independent . London. 2007-01-19.
  42. Jump up^ Today’s Zaman, 28 October 2006, Saturday / Anadolu NEWS AGENCY (AA) ROMA.