Istanbul, shabby, mundane, and magical

  • Book: The Flea Palace
  • Location: Istanbul (Constantinople)
  • Author: Elif Shafak

Review Author: Vasha



A fine and entertaining comic novel. The format of focusing on a large cast of characters, each of whom has a problem of some sort, could suggest a feel-good ending is on the way, but no, this is more honest and satisfying: some people’s lives get better over the course of the book, but some get worse, or end up on balance much like they began. The characters are somewhat caricatured, but not to the point of utter unbelievability. The best thing about the book, besides its ending, is its sense of the texture of life in this crowded neighborhood of Istanbul.

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Enter the 2021TripFiction 'Sense of Place' Creative Writing Competition! Entries close 6th November

A story in which the location plays as important a role as the rest of your words.

2,500 word maximum, 750 word minimum

Judges include Victoria Hislop and Rosanna Ley

First Prize of £1,000 / US$1,350

Prizes total £1,750 / US$2,362 

Winning entry published on TripFiction site and publicised on Social Media