Coverart for item
The Resource The saint of incipient insanities, Elif Shafak

The saint of incipient insanities, Elif Shafak

Label
The saint of incipient insanities
Title
The saint of incipient insanities
Statement of responsibility
Elif Shafak
Creator
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
Follows the adventures of three young Turks loose in America as they negotiate their desires in a land that seems to allow limitless indulgences
Review
  • /*Starred Review*/ Three roommates, Omer, Abed, and Piyu, are all foreigners, studying and living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Omer, a handsome party boy studying political science, has recently arrived from Istanbul, and he lands a room in the house of Abed, from Morocco, and Piyu, a dental student from Spain. Omer falls in love with the neurotic vegan lesbian Gail, and they eventually marry. Abed is a consummate worrier who must contend with his mother’s visit from Morocco. Piyu is awestruck by his girlfriend Alegre’s cooking, but not necessarily by her close-knit family full of watchful aunts, and unaware of the secret she herself harbors. Together, these three friends experience love, exile, and a lack of cultural identity as they forge ahead with their lives in a new land, with relationships with new people, confronting their greatest joys alongside their worst nightmares. Shafak is a prizewinning author who, until now, has written only in her native Turkish. This is her first novel in English, and she presents a masterful command of language, which she uses cleverly, humorously, and engagingly. -- Michael Spinella (BookList, 09-15-2004, p209)
  • Three graduate school roommates—a Moroccan, a Turk and a Spaniard—are strange bedfellows in a potentially inhospitable land in this painstakingly multicultural but rather discombobulated first novel in English by Shafak, a prize winner in Turkey. Set in Somerville, Mass., in 2003, the novel shifts erratically between Ömer, the Turk, who's supposed to be finishing his poli-sci Ph.D., but prefers regular sex with his American girlfriend, Gail, a suicidal, feminist chocolate maker; Abed, the pious Moroccan, who cures his nightmares by watching slasher films; and Piyu, the clean-freak Spaniard, who loves food but dates a bulimic Mexican-American who doesn't. Each character is lost in one sense or another, and the book is about their attempts to discover how they tick and for whom. There's lots of potential there, but the story is stretched too thin by extraneous characters, subplots, repetition and contrivances. Shafak strives to explain to readers what it means to be an outsider in America—"So wonderful was his azonal void, of a substance so translucent almost invisible under the veneer of anonymousness; such a consummate stranger he had become in a world of suffocating familiarities"—but her linguistic acrobatics distract rather than enlighten. This is a brave attempt at a post-9/11 story about immigrants in America, but Shafak flails in the 21st-century melting pot. Agent, Marly Rusoff. (Oct.) --Staff (Reviewed September 13, 2004) (Publishers Weekly, vol 251, issue 37, p56)
  • Shafak, the author of four previous novels published in Turkish (e.g., the recently translated Flea Palace ), has written her first novel in English. It centers on three graduate students who share an apartment in Boston. The main character, Omer, a native of Istanbul, falls in love with Gail, a lesbian feminist from Mount Holyoke; Abed, a pious Moroccan Muslim, pretends to be shocked by Omer's drinking habits; and Piyu, a Spaniard, is baffled by his Mexican American girlfriend and her extended family. Their constant topic of conversation is the immigrant experience. All three were steeped in American pop culture from birth, but watching endless episodes of Seinfeld and The Simpsons hasn't prepared them for life in the United States. Shafak comes alive whenever the talk turns to Istanbul, and the final chapters that deal with that city are much more vivid and engaging than her descriptions of Boston and western Massachusetts. A slight but amusing evocation of contemporary student life; for larger collections.—Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles --Edward B. St. John (Reviewed October 15, 2004) (Library Journal, vol 129, issue 17, p52)
  • A first English translation from Turkish author Shafak follows the lives of three foreign students in Boston to explore community and alienation while playing with ideas about language, religion, and culture.Arriving from Turkey to work on his Ph.D. in political science, Omer moves into a house with Piyu, a Spanish dental student, and Abed, a Moroccan studying biotechnology. Unlike the Catholic, hot-chocolate-drinking Piyu and the Moslem, mint-tea-drinking Abed, who both remain devout, Omer, who drinks coffee and liquor and listens to American music nonstop, no longer practices Islam. Despite their differences in culture and language, the three men's outsider status (as well as their common reliance on English as a second language) binds them together while each struggles to find where he resides in spirit. They play word games and take care of their dog. They eat wonderful meals prepared by Piyu's Mexican-American girlfriend Alegre, a secret bulimic whose gorging and disgorging is described in painful detail. Alegre widens their social circle by adding Waspy Debra Ellen Thompson from her eating disorders therapy group and Debra's former lover Gail, half-Jewish and highly neurotic, with whom Debra runs a candy business, Squirmy Spirit Chocolates (an odd inconsistency, since they are vegans, and the chocolates described sound buttery rich). Abed's mother comes to visit, bringing a disappointing letter from his Moroccan girlfriend, and Abed is surprised how well she adjusts to his American friends. In fact, she suggests that Abed marry Gail. Instead, Omer and Gail fall in love, a union of Omer's internal anger and Gail's deep sadness. They marry, but Gail's depression will conquer their connection. Throughout, the characters talk about philosophy and sociology, although they skirt thornier political issues, while Shafak's use of language veers from masterful to awkwardly convoluted.Sometimes lively and provocative, but frequently as pretentious as Gail's spiritually shaped chocolates. (Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2004)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
129028
Cataloging source
DLC
http://library.link/vocab/creatorDate
1971-
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Shafak, Elif
Dewey number
813/.6
Index
no index present
Literary form
fiction
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Students, Foreign
  • Graduate students
  • Young adults
  • Immigrants
  • Friendship
  • Friendship
  • Graduate students
  • Immigrants
  • Students, Foreign
  • Young adults
  • United States
Label
The saint of incipient insanities, Elif Shafak
Instantiates
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
ocm53971682
Dimensions
24 cm
Edition
1st ed.
Extent
351 pages
Isbn
9780374253578
Lccn
2003027975
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
(OCoLC)53971682
Label
The saint of incipient insanities, Elif Shafak
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
ocm53971682
Dimensions
24 cm
Edition
1st ed.
Extent
351 pages
Isbn
9780374253578
Lccn
2003027975
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
(OCoLC)53971682

Library Locations

    • Central LibraryBorrow it
      710 W. Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX, 78701, US
      30.2713021 -97.7460168
    • Cepeda BranchBorrow it
      651 N. Pleasant Valley Rd., Austin, TX, 78702, US
      30.2590471 -97.7088905
Processing Feedback ...