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The Gaze
     

The Gaze

by Elif Shafak
 

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From award-winning writer Elif Shafak, the Orange Prize long-listed author of The Forty Rules of Love and The Architect's Apprentice, The Gaze is a humorous and carnivalesque exploration of what it means to look and be looked at... An obese woman and her lover, a dwarf, are sick of being stared at wherever they go and so decide to reverse roles. The man goes out

Overview

From award-winning writer Elif Shafak, the Orange Prize long-listed author of The Forty Rules of Love and The Architect's Apprentice, The Gaze is a humorous and carnivalesque exploration of what it means to look and be looked at... An obese woman and her lover, a dwarf, are sick of being stared at wherever they go and so decide to reverse roles. The man goes out wearing make-up and the woman draws a moustache on her face. This elegant, unforgettable novel explores our desire to look at others. 'Beautifully evoked' The Times 'Original and compelling' TLS

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Originally published in Turkey in 1999 to wide acclaim, this screwball love story is Shafak's third novel. (Her fifth, The Saint of Incipient Insanities, was published here in 2004.) Loosely organized around a neurotic obese woman and a feisty dwarf, it teems with parallel plots and digressions, freely leaping from modern apartment living in Istanbul to a 19th-century Turkish freak show and fur hunts in 17th-century Siberia. Shafak's prose (ably translated by Freely) follows a humorous, idiosyncratic course, seizing on arresting visual details, such as "a house the color of salted green almonds" and dispensing oddly charming aphorisms: "Love is a corset." (She adds: "In order to understand the value of this you have to be exceedingly fat.") At one moment, a faceless newborn's features are etched on by an anxious aunt; at another, a shipwrecked Russian sailor surprises a shaman in flagrante delicto with an oversized sable. The early parts of the novel can feel maddeningly unfocused for a book about the power of the stare. Later pages home in on an unexpected emotional trauma, and the atmosphere of fantastical levity clears to reveal an urgent, human pain. Shafak probes the many ironies of appearance and perception with entertaining and affecting results. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
From Turkish novelist Shafak (The Saint of Incipient Insanities, 2004, etc.), a richly layered narrative concerning misfits and how society views them. The story of a Victorian-era circus impresario improbably named Keramet Mum" Keske Memis Efendi galvanizes the other dramatis personae in this mishmash. Born the only son in a family of six sisters, Efendi has a transparent face, as if made of wax, and his aunt must literally form his eyes into slits. Because of his suffering in a newly modern society where appearances are of supreme importance, Efendi develops an ability to see what others cannot; he resolves to create a theater of spectacles in the city of Pera under a cherry-colored tent where the ugliest creatures will be displayed. One of his most compelling acts is the hideous Sable-Girl, a half-sable, half-human creature who descends from a lineage of 17th-century Siberian trappers. Meanwhile, the narrative cuts to 1999 in Istanbul's Hayalifener Apartments, where an enormous woman, writing in the first person, recounts her difficulties moving about in society while also living with a man utterly unsuited for her, a dwarf called B-C. Driven by the unwanted attention the couple attracts (they often appear in public incognito), B-C begins to write a Dictionary of Gazes that will demonstrate in entries seemingly unrelated to each other about how everything has to do with seeing and being seen. It will be "like a shaman's cloak of forty patches and a single thread," the dwarf notes, though his girlfriend is skeptical and increasingly anxious as the dictionary absorbs B-C's attention and hinders him from actually seeing her. In the end, the fragments of this imaginative work, riveting inthemselves, resist converging into a cohesive mosaic. A strange, hallucinatory work.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780241201916
Publisher:
Penguin UK
Publication date:
05/01/2016
Edition description:
Reissue
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
1,344,845
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

Elif Shafak is one of today's most influential international writers and intellectuals who straddle East and West. She is the acclaimed author of ten novels including The Architect's Apprentice and The Bastard of Istanbul, and is the most widely read female writer in Turkey. Her work has been translated into over forty languages and she has been awarded the prestigious Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres. She is also a public speaker, a women's and LGBT rights activist and a commentator who regularly contributes to world publications including The New York Times, The Guardian, Der Spiegel and La Repubblica. Elif has been longlisted for the Orange Prize, the Baileys Prize and the IMPAC Dublin Award, and shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the Ondaatje Prize. She lives in London and can be found at www.elifshafak.com.

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