I’ve been having a very stressful time with all this redeployment nonsense and have found such blessed relief in sitting down at the end of the day and watching the lovely Mariella Frostrup at the Hay Festival. Once I retire I will spend my time travelling to all the book festivals in the country. I spent a couple of days in Hay 3 years ago, and even when there is no festival, the bookshops and general atmoshere are peaceful, stimulating, gorgeous.

Anyway, she was interviewing the beautiful Elif Shafak  this week  whose latest book I first heard about at the Edinburgh Festival last year.

Shafak grew up with two very different models of Turkish motherhood – her modern, working, educated mother and her traditional, religious grandmother.

Her novel, The Forty Rules of Love is concerned with questions of motherhood and selfhood. Ella Rubenstein, the middle-aged American housewife and mother at the heart of the novel, is unhappily married to an unfaithful and neglectful husband, and in thrall to the needs of her children. Her own life and needs and aspirations have been lost along the way, as has her belief in love.

She was describing how English and Turkish fulfil different functions for her. She described English as suitable for irony and comedy. Its rich, precise vocabulary lends itself to logical expression. Turkish, on the other hand, although less rich in terms of vocabulary, has equal power for a novelist. Shafak writes in Turkish when the mood is melancholy or magical. She said Turkish has a past tense that does not exist in English; one that is based in the time of folk tales. She uses this tense to illustrate those Once upon a time, mysterious moments which are being related to us.

That’s it. I know no more. But I loved the conversation.

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