Three Daughters of Eve (Shafak)

Three Daughters of Eve 
Elif Shafak, 2017
Bloomsbury USA
384 pp.

The stunning, timely new novel from the acclaimed, internationally bestselling author of The Architect's Apprentice and The Bastard of Istanbul.

Peri, a married, wealthy, beautiful Turkish woman, is on her way to a dinner party at a seaside mansion in Istanbul when a beggar snatches her handbag.

As she wrestles to get it back, a photograph falls to the ground — an old polaroid of three young women and their university professor. A relic from a past — and a love — Peri had tried desperately to forget.

Three Daughters of Eve is set over an evening in contemporary Istanbul, as Peri arrives at the party and navigates the tensions that simmer in this crossroads country between East and West, religious and secular, rich and poor. Over the course of the dinner, and amidst an opulence that is surely ill-begotten, terrorist attacks occur across the city.

Competing in Peri's mind however are the memories invoked by her almost-lost polaroid, of the time years earlier when she was sent abroad for the first time, to attend Oxford University. As a young woman there, she had become friends with the charming, adventurous Shirin, a fully assimilated Iranian girl, and Mona, a devout Egyptian-American.

Their arguments about Islam and feminism find focus in the charismatic but controversial Professor Azur, who teaches divinity, but in unorthodox ways. As the terrorist attacks come ever closer, Peri is moved to recall the scandal that tore them all apart.

Elif Shafak is the number one bestselling novelist in her native Turkey, and her work is translated and celebrated around the world. In Three Daughters of Eve, she has given us a rich and moving story that humanizes and personalizes one of the most profound sea changes of the modern world. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Birth—October 25, 1970
Where—Strasbourg, France
Education—M.A., Ph.D., Middle East Technical University
Awards—(see below)
Currently—lives in London, England, UK

Elif Shafak, a Turkish author, columnist, and professor, is Turkey's most well-known female novelist.
Writing in both Turkish and English, she has published 15 books, 10 of which are novels, blending Eastern and Western traditions of storytelling on subjects such as women, minorities, immigrants, subcultures, and youth. Her writings reflect her interest in history, philosophy, Sufism, oral culture, and cultural politics.

Şafak was born Elif Bilgin in Strasbourg to philosopher Nuri Bilgin and Şafak Atayman, who later became a diplomat. After her parents' separation, Şafak was raised by her mother.[6] She says not growing up in a typical patriarchal family had a great impact on her work and writing. She incorporated her mother's first name—Turkish for "dawn"—with her own when constructing her pen name.
Cosmopolitan identity
Şafak spent her teenage years in Madrid and Amman before returning to Turkey. She has lived around the world—Boston, Michigan, Arizona, Istanbul and London—and her writing has thrived upon these journeys. She sees herself as not just migrating from country to country, city to city but language to language, even in her native Turkish she believes she plays to the vocabularies of different cultures. Through it all she has maintained a deep attachment to the city of Istanbul, which plays an important part in her fiction. As a result, a sense of multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism has consistently characterized both her life and her work.

In 2010 she was awarded the title of Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. In October 2017 it was announced that Shafak will be the 2017 contributor to the Future Library Project, a collection of 100 literary works commissioned yearly from 2014 to 2114 and kept unread until 2114 when they will be printed as a limited edition anthology. (From .)

Book Reviews
There is a compelling confidence about the scope of Elif Shafak’s work. As a writer who stands between west and east, working in Turkish and English, living in Istanbul and London, she engages with some of the most pressing political and personal themes of our times. Her new novel is no exception.
Natasha Walter - Guardian (UK)

This is a truly modern novel—about the way we are shaped by politics, including freedom of expression and political repression, but also by our personal relationships (Best Books of 2017).
Sadiq Khan - Financial Times

[Shfak's] writing in English is a mixed bag, with passages of appealing sensuality and intelligence alternating with sections that are overwrought or clunky and in need of more rigorous editing. At times the women (and indeed the men) here can seem like mouthpieces for ideological arguments rather than real characters…. Despite all that, Three Daughters of Eve is a compelling read.
Cathy Dillon - Irish Times

Turkey's best-known female novelist, Elif Shafak, has been building a body of work that needles her country's historical amnesia.… The ways in which an unresolved past can fuel present-day tensions is the subject of Shafak's vivid and timely eighth novel.

A beautifully rendered tale of homeland and faith.
Marie Claire

Shafak’s ambitious novel follows Peri Nalbantoglu, namely her memories of childhood and a scandal … at Oxford.… [R]readers interested in debates about the nature of God will find the book intriguing.
Publishers Weekly

Shafak uses rich, thought-provoking prose to illuminate women's struggles and fuse Islam with feminist theory.… [She] illustrates the ongoing fissure between Eastern and Western culture in Turkey.  —Sally Bissell, formerly with Lee Cty. Lib. Syst., Fort Myers, FL
Library Journal

Shafak is a brilliant chronicler of the ills that plague contemporary society and once again proves her mettle.

Shafak's infectious, earnest exuberance is used here to better effect than it has been recently; her portrait of a woman in existential crisis feels universal, shining clarifying light on Islam … within the frame of today's world.
Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions
We'll add publisher questions if and when they're available; in the meantime, use our LitLovers Book Club Resources. They can help with discussions for any book:

How to Discuss a Book (helpful discussion tips)
Generic Discussion Questions—Fiction and Nonfiction
Read-Think-Talk (a guided reading chart)

(Resources by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online and off, with attribution. Thanks.)

top of page (summary)

Site by BOOM Boom Supercreative

LitLovers © 2020