The Gaze
Elif Shafak

Translated from the Turkish by Brendan Freely

+ To read about Elif's trial in Turkey, click here

+ Elif Shafak took part in the Women in the Middle East Literature Tour 26-30 May 2006

A new title from the author of The Flea Palace, which was shortlisted for the Independent Prize for Foreign Fiction and was chosen as part of the Waterstone’s Summer Reading 2005 promotion.

Shafak explores the subject of body image and desirability in women and men. An overweight woman and her lover; a dwarf, are sick of being stared at wherever they go so they decide to reverse roles. The man goes out wearing make up, and the woman draws a moustache on her face.

The couple deal with the gaze of passersby in different ways. The woman wants to hide away from the world, while the man meets it head on, even compiling his own ‘Dictionary of the Gaze’ to show how powerful an effect a simple glance can have on a person’s life.

The narrative of The Gaze is intertwined with the dwarf’s dictionary entries and the story of a bizarre freak-show organized in Istanbul in the 1880s as Shafak explores the damage our desire simply to look at people can do.

'Elif Shafak's The Gaze, about a romance between a huge woman and a dwarf, plays with ideas of beauty and ugliness like they're Rubik's cubes.' Helen Oyeyemi, author of The Icarus Girl

‘The Gaze is an effective, often painful rumination on the appearance and the reality of dreams.’ The Telegraph, 27 May 2006

‘Shafak probes the many ironies of appearance and perception with entertaining and affecting results.’ Publishers’ Weekly 19 June 2006

‘Shafak is more than a worthy heir to Isabel Allende’s brand of magical realism. A quiet intelligence underpins the novel’s flamboyant surrealism.’ The Independent, 30 June 2006

‘The author is the hottest young writer in Turkey, and the background of her strange novel is beautifully evoked, but her preoccupations are universal. Human beings long to look, to stare, to gaze at anything that makes them curious. Sometimes, the pitiless gazes of others can flay like knives. A fat woman and a dwarf become lovers, drawn together by their status as freaks. Their story is interwoven with the story of a freak show in 1880s Istanbul. Shafak enters the isolation of those unfortunate enough to be different.’ The Times, July 8 2006

‘A richly layered narrative concerning misfits and how society views them…a strange, hallucinatory work.’ Kirkus Reviews, 15 July 2006

‘Shafak’s orignal and compelling book has perception as its overarching theme. Like time itself, Shafak suggests, seeing and looking are circular, referential forms, with the constant movement of a glance returning again and again to its subject, unstoppable and penetrating.’ TLS 21 July 2006

About Elif Shafak

To read an extract of this title click here

Original paperback 216pp
ISBN: 0-7145-3121-9
November 2006
World English Rights

Cover design: Eleanor Rose