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The novelist builds a tiny room in the depths of her mind and locks the door so that no one can get in. There she hides her secrets and ambitions from all prying eyes.

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As for the mother, all her doors and windows must be wide open morning and night, summer and winter. Her children can enter through whichever entrance they choose, and roam around as they please. She has no secret corner. You dreamed of being an artist, you've found success. You have the life you want, and then A feeling grows, a desire, a longing.

Book Preview: Elif Shafak's "Black Milk": On Writing, Motherhood and the Harem Within -

You ignore it at first, but the feeling demands your attention. It won't go away. In fact, it's been residing inside you all along, waiting to whisper those magic words: "I want a baby. Turkish author Elif Shafak long espoused the motto, "Dreams first, family later Early in her memoir, Shafak asks readers a question once posed to her: "Do you think a woman could manage motherhood and a career at the same time and equally well?

About the Book

As a successful author and self-proclaimed nomad, Shafak wandered the world, writing and publishing in her beloved Istanbul, in the US and in Europe. But her decision to postpone motherhood and wholeheartedly pursue a career was not without inner turmoil. She not only recognizes her "multitudes," but she names them and identifies their personalities.

There's Little Miss Practical, who leaves nothing to chance, viewing all choices and actions with logic and blunt rationale; Miss Highbrowed Cynic, who embraces the intellectual; Milady Ambitious Chekhovian, the career-driven artist; Dame Dervish, the spiritual Sufi; Blue Belle Bovary, the seductress; and Mama Rice Pudding, the maternal. With this intriguing approach, Shafak's memoir is both absurd and entertaining. Throughout the book, she converses with herself via these Thumbelina-sized women who surprise her in airplane bathrooms and start fistfights in parks. Readers might find themselves, like Little Miss Practical, flipping through the pages with an exasperated, "That just doesn't make sense!

Shafak's creative take on her own personalities exemplified a belief she holds about all women: that we are more than one identity, not simply a mother, lover or career gal.


This notion of multiple selves has driven much of Shafak's writing. In , the literary journal Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism published an interview with Shafak in which she said:. For me, to find room for my "multiple selves" had always been difficult both abroad and in Turkey. The moment I step outside Turkey, I am this "woman from a Muslim country. It is as if there is always some part of me that I have to censure so that I can find a habitat Most of our model of thinking is based on dualities.

Normal-abnormal, East-West, traditional-modern, feminine-masculine It is rare indeed to encounter a true journey of self-discovery told so entertainingly and with such imagination. However, Shafak is now facing a trial for "denigrating Turkishness" — because of comments made by one of her characters in the novel.

Interview by Lewis Gropp. Sheikh Hussein is a town in the Oromia region in south-eastern Ethiopia. The tomb of the 13th century Sufi Sheikh Hussein who introduced Islam to the area and is said to have performed many miracles is still visited by thousands of people.

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Elif Shafak, a Turkish best-selling author and now mother of two, used hers to come to terms with herself. She tells the story in her soon-to-be-published book, Black Milk. Sabine Kleefisch tells us more. Elif Shafak, b. All Topics. In submitting this comment, the reader accepts the following terms and conditions: Qantara. This applies in particular to defamatory, racist, personal, or irrelevant comments or comments written in dialects or languages other than English.

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Black Milk: on Writing, Motherhood and the Harem within by Elif Shafak

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