Tag Archives: Istanbul

“The Flea Palace” by Elif Shafak

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It is probably my least favorite novel by Shafak so far. It could be the timing and my mind’s needs at this point. It does not diminish one single point its value.

“The Flea Palace” is about emotional lives spent behind the doors of our dwellings, where we think we have privacy. A tragicomic look at a community of people denying themselves any sense of belonging to a community, even if it lives under one roof, the roof of the Bonbon Palace built by a former Russian general for his wife.

My favorite passages:

« Truth is a horizontal line. Be it a hotel corridor, hospital ward, rehabilitation centre or train compartment; all are horizontal. In such places, all your neighbours are lined up next to you on a horizontal plane, for a fleeting moment. You cannot grow roots at these places. Horizontality is the haven of evanescence. I too have been living on a horizontal line for sixty-six days – in the seventh of the ten cells lined up next to each other here. »

« Lies are a vertical line. An apartment building, for instance, erected with flats on top of one another with two layers of cemeteries underneath and seven planes of skies above. Here you can spread roots and grow branches as you please. Verticality Lies are a vertical line. An apartment building, for instance, erected with flats on top of one another with two layers of cemeteries underneath and seven planes of skies above. Here you can spread roots and grow branches as you please. «

“The Architect’s Apprentice” by Elif Shafak

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Yet another delight from Elif Shafak. I loved it. Shafak guides the reader through intricacies of humanity with wit and love, compassion and wisdom. Her Istanbul became mine.

“The Architect’s Apprentice” is to me a love story, a story of brotherhood, a story of creation, a story of jealousy, a story of grandiose failures and humble beginnings. In other words, it is fully human. I found her characters authentic to the core.

I rejoiced yet another time in the tides of Safak’s wisdom. Here are a few of favourite quotes:

‘When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.’

“Little did he know, back then, that the worth of one’s faith depended not on how solid and strong it was, but on how many times one would lose it and still be able to get it back.”

“Centre of the universe was neither in the East nor in the West. It was where one surrendered to love.”

‘Truth is a butterfly: it lands on this flower and that. You run after it with a net. If you capture it, you are happy. But it won’t live long. Truth is a delicate thing.’

In her Autor’s Note, Shafak expresses “hope that this story, too, will flow like water in the hearts of its readers.” I definitely did in my heart.