Book review: ’10 minutes, 38 seconds in this strange world’ by Elif Shafak

On the first page, we learn that ‘Tequila Leila’ (as she’s known to her friends) is not at home, cuddled up in bed and warm, but instead she lies dead in a metal rubbish bin on the outskirts of Istanbul - a city which lives and breathes its own personality as loudly as the characters that live within it. We feel immediate devastation that this woman, a person who Elif describes with intimate detail, has met her end here. As Leila herself says: “She could not believe that her mortal existence was over and done with [...] Last night she had left her fingerprints on a whisky glass …”

Book review: ‘The new me’ by Halle Butler

'The new me' is undoubtedly one of the most depressing novels I’ve ever read - but in a way that is refreshingly realistic. Films and books do have a habit of making the depressive romantic, exciting, or thrilling. This novel gives us none of that - instead Butler takes on an intimidating task by weaving together a book that explores tedious monotony, a self-defeatist attitude and a steady decline into depression, all while keeping the readers’ attention. If it manages to catch you, it cuts much deeper than most other texts.

Short story: Memory

I’m little. Only two years or so. I must be less than three years old, because she’s still alive. I’m outside, somewhere. I’m surrounded by people - large, looming faces that I don’t recognise. I tip my head over the arms that hold me to look around. There’s a beautiful one, two old ones, a big one, a really big one, a furry one, and there’s her.

Short story: Peter

When he died, a big part of Peter thought the rest of the world would too. He’d thought about how it might happen, many times. Not the way he’d die - that seemed fairly obvious to him - but how the world would cease after he was no longer there to watch it. Would the earth disappear with a bubble-wrap ‘pop’ at the moment his main artery finally clogged? Would the colors in the world start to drain as his vision swam? Would the roads, forests and oceans, some that he’d travelled across and some that he’d only read about, start to fold up on themselves like giant monoliths in the sky as his own heart constricted and failed in his chest? Most importantly, would anyone know why it was happening?

Short story: Garland

The air was so hot that it hovered around her nostrils even as she walked. Somehow the air outside felt warmer than the hot blood running through her veins, and it made Judy uncomfortable. There hadn’t been a single breeze between her house and the town hall which had given her any release from this feeling, and her skin was already prickling at the thought of pushing open the door and feeling the cool air that only a place with stone walls 10 feet thick could have on this summer day.