The Gaze

“The Gaze” by Elif Shafak (Turkey)


Readers had a difficult time getting into this book finding both the language and the narrative hard to follow. Some didn’t manage to finish it, but those who did were very glad they had persisted, because about a third of the way through they felt that the pieces started to fit together. The main story is told from the point of view of an obese woman, whose name readers never learn. Her lover, the dwarf, is simply referred to as B-C. Readers found these parts, which were interspersed with the dictionary entries, a bit disjointed and lacking in depth. It was only much later in the book that they were able to warm to the protagonist. The intertwined stories set in different places and times kept readers wondering about their relevance right up until the end. Readers described the book as very colourful and filled with a lot of folklore. They were able to relate to the theme of the story, which was about our human need of seeing and being seen. They liked the ending, which they felt cleverly brought the story full circle. Overall, it averaged a 7.5 out of 10.


An obese woman and her lover, a dwarf, are sick of being stared at wherever they go, and so decide to reverse roles. The man goes out wearing make up and the woman draws a moustache on her face. But while the woman wants to hide away from the world, the man meets the stares from passers-by head on… Read more

Nicola’s Book Club reading list

Season 17 – “The Human Condition” (Feb – Jun 2013)

“Hustle” by Will Ferguson (Canada) *
“The Gaze” by Elif Shafak (Turkey)
“Goodbye Lucille” by Segun Afolabi (Nigeria)
“The Lake” by Banana Yoshimoto (Japan)
“The Sickness” by Alberto Barrera Tyszka (Venezuela) 

* The book club favourite
In italics, Nicola’s Coup de Cœur

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