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18 Jul 4:00am

Novelist Elif Shafak: ‘I’ve always believed in inherited pain’

The Guardian
The award-winning Turkish-British writer, whose new book explores love and politics in Cyprus and London, talks about generational trauma, food in exile and how heavy metal helps her write If trees could talk, what might they tell us? “Well,” says the Turkish-British writer Elif Shafak, smiling at me over a cup of mint tea, her long hair a little damp from the rain. “They live a lot longer than us. So they see a lot more than we do. Perhaps they can help us to have a calmer, wiser angle on things.” In unison, we turn our heads towards the window. We’re both slightly anxious, I think, Shafak because she arrived for our meeting a tiny bit late, and me because this cafe in Holland Park is so noisy and crowded (we can’t sit outside because yet another violent summer squall has just blown in). A sycamore or horse chestnut-induced sense of perspective could be just what the pair of us need. Shafak, who is sometimes described as Turkey’s most famous female writer, has a reputation for outspokenness. A fierce advocate for equality and freedom of speech, her views have brought her into conflict with the increasingly repressive government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In person, however, you get no immediate sense of this. Gentle and warm, her voice is never emphatic; she smiles with her (green) eyes as well as her mouth. And while her new novel,
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