Penguin Specials are designed to fill a gap. Written to be read over a long commute or a short journey, they are original and exclusively in digital form. This is Elif Shafak's examination of national identity.
"You know, I never understand. How come their children are so quiet and well disciplined?"
"Yeah," said the distressed father, his voice suddenly softer. "Blond children never cry, do they?"
As Elif Shafak stands in line at the airport, she overhears a Turkish father expressing to a friend his bewilderment at the cultural differences he's experienced since immigrating to northern Europe. Is it true, she wonders, that the citizens of these countries are genuinely happier? Why do people leave their homes for other countries? And what lessons can we all learn, for the creation of truly harmonious societies, from the experiences of immigrants?
In the light of the recent backlash against multiculturalism and the influx of millions of Muslims into Europe from the east, this powerful and personal essay uses the lived experience of immigrants to examine this most hotly debated subject.
Elif Shafak is an award-winning novelist and the most widely read female writer in Turkey. She is known as a women's rights, minority rights and LGBT rights advocate as well as an inspirational public intellectual and speaker.
She writes in both Turkish and English, and has published 16 books, 10 of which are novels. Her books have been published in 48 languages.
Shafak is a TED Global speaker, a member of Weforum Global Agenda Council on Creative Economy in Davos and a founding member of ECFR (European Council on Foreign Relations). She has been awarded the title of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres in 2010 by the French government.
She has been featured in and contributes to major newspapers and periodicals around the world, including the Financial Times, The Guardian, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Der Spiegel and La Repubblica.
Shafak holds a degree in International Relations, a masters' degree in Gender and Women's Studies and a PhD in Political Science and Political Philosophy. She has taught at various universities in Turkey, the UK and the USA, and is the 2018 Weidenfeld Visiting Professor in Comparative European Literature at Oxford.