literature & poetry
spoken word & live literature

Louise Doughty and Elif Shafak in Conversation

Part of London Literature Festival

Join world-renowned authors Lousie Doughty and Elif Shafak as they discuss their new novels.

With narrators who speak after their deaths, Doughty’s Platform Seven and Shafak’s 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World (shortlisted for the 2019 Booker Prize) both weave rich and intricate narratives around their lead characters and the people they meet, taking the audience on a journey from the streets of Istanbul to the hidden places in which humans find themselves during times of crisis.

Navigating the violence that is meted out to women across different socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds alike, both books draw on the ways in which friends often become the most important family in our lives and the ways in which the most intimate parts of people’s lives play to a much wider political and social context.

Elif Shafak’s 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World follows Leila, a sex worker in Istanbul during the ten minutes after she is murdered and her body dumped in a bin, exploring her thoughts as her brain shuts down. For Leila, each minute after her death brings a sensuous memory: the taste of spiced goat stew, sacrificed by her father to celebrate the long-awaited birth of a son; the sight of bubbling vats of lemon and sugar that the women use to wax their legs while the men attend mosque; the scent of cardamom coffee that Leila shares with a handsome student in the brothel where she works. Each memory, too, recalls the friends she made at each key moment in her life – friends who are now desperately trying to find her, not knowing it’s already too late.

Louise Doughty’s Platform Seven uses the unlikely setting of Peterborough Railway Station. Platform Seven at 4am: Peterborough Railway Station is deserted. The man crossing the covered walkway on this freezing November morning is confident he’s alone. As he sits on the metal bench at the far end of the platform it is clear his choice is strategic – he’s as far away from the night staff as he can get. What the man doesn’t realise is that he has company. Lisa Evans knows what he has decided. She knows what he is about to do as she tries and fails to stop him walking to the platform edge. With Doughty’s trademark suspense, the novel reveals what really happened to Lisa Evans on Platform Seven, through Lisa’s own voice, a voice which is only able to be heard after death.

Platform Seven is Louise Doughty’s ninth novel. Her most recent book was Black Water, which was published in 2016 to critical acclaim in the UK and US, where it was nominated as one of the New York Times Notable Books of the Year. Her Top Ten bestseller Apple Tree Yard sold over half a million copies in the UK alone and was adapted for BBC One as a four-part series starring Emily Watson. She has been nominated for the Orange Prize for Fiction (now the Women’s Prize for Fiction) and the Costa Novel Award and her work has been translated into 30 languages. She lives in London.

Elif Shafak is an award-winning British-Turkish novelist and the most widely read female author in Turkey. She writes in both Turkish and English, and has published 17 books, 11 of which are novels. Her work has been translated into 50 languages. She is a member of Weforum Global Agenda Council on Creative Economy and a founding member of ECFR (European Council on Foreign Relations).

An advocate for women’s rights, LGBT rights and freedom of speech, Shafak is an inspiring public speaker and twice has been a TED Global speaker, each time receiving a standing ovation. Shafak contributes to numerous major publications around the world and she has been awarded the title of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres. In 2017, she was chosen by Politico as one of the twelve people who would make the world better.

Dates & times

22 Oct 2019
Approximate run time: 90 mins
Run times may vary, find out more


Purcell Room


Booking fee: £3.00 (Members £0.00)

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Age recommendation
For ages 16+

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Multi-buy discount
Book three or more literature and poetry events in the same transaction and receive a 25% discount. Selected events only.