Elif Shafak

Lifting the Veil

Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World


Chatto & Windus 344pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

On a Turkish Airlines flight from London to Istanbul my five-year-old son demands to go to the toilet – ‘Now!’ Recognising the urgency in his tone, I spring to my feet and grab him, not realising in my haste that I have left the book I have been reading on an empty seat, face up. There are two Turkish ladies in my row: middle class, middle-aged, similarly attired. Upon returning to our seats I catch them peeking at the cover, whispering and giggling like schoolgirls. When they see me, they blush with guilt but then turn and eye me curiously. Their expressions seem to ask, ‘Are you reading a book on sex? And next to your children? What has this world come to?’ Such is the effect of carrying around Shereen El Feki’s Sex and the Citadel.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'One of the reasons for its longevity is that it has virtually nothing to say about science and technology at all,… ,
    • 'The characters in many of these stories are trapped in the obsessive present tense of their own thoughts; in the m… ,
    • 'Libraries, for much of their existence, have embodied in microcosm many of the characteristics of the totalitarian… ,
    • 'Moss and Cynthia buy several properties through which to launder their ill-gotten gains, take lots of drugs, have… ,
    • 'Never mind the imperial cult. This is the cult of Boris. What happened to Rome?' From the LR archive:… ,
    • Thirty-two years ago this month, we published Muriel Spark's short story, 'A Playhouse Called Remarkable' Read it… ,
    • Time travel, bicycles and white horses populate @WomackPhilip's roundup of children's books by @marcussedgwick,… ,