All about The Flea Palace by Elif ┼×afak. LibraryThing is a cataloging and social networking site for booklovers. Shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, Elif Shafak's The Flea Palace is a moving and highly original novel about a group of individuals who. I read Elif Shafak's The Flea Palace almost four years ago. I haven't re-read it since, and don't own a copy. But it's still one of my favorite books.


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She clung to the rails to see what the city that awaited them looked like.

Extract from The Flea Palace by Elif Shafak | Books | The Guardian

Ever since she was a little girl, she relished playing games the flea palace colours more than anything else. Wherever she went, she needed to discover the colour of the flea palace place first in order to feel at home there.

The mansion in Grosny where she was born and had spent her childhood, for instance, was rhubarb, and the church they attended every Sunday parchment yellow. In her mind's eye, the villa they lodged in during religious festivals was a sparkly emerald awash in dew; the house she lived in with her husband after their wedding was the orange of a winter sun.

Not only places but also people, animals, even moments had colours each of which, she had no doubt she could see if focused fully. She did so once again. At first with curiosity, then with frustration, she stared and stared without a blink at the silhouette of the city in front of her until her eyes watered and the image became blurred.

Istanbul was under a heavy fog that morning, and as all Istanbulites knew too well, during foggy days even the city herself could not tell what her colour was. However, Agripina Fyodorovna Antipova had always been pampered with great care since birth and had been subsequently led to presume that others were to blame whenever she could not obtain anything she desired.


Hence she interpreted the persistence of Istanbul in withdrawing herself behind the veil of fog as a sign of intentional hostility and personal insult. She still, however, wanted to give the city a chance, the flea palace she firmly believed in the virtue of forgiveness.

Lifting her small silver Virgin Mary icon toward the city she smiled benevolently: For that would be the right thing to the flea palace. When she bent down the rails, Agripina Fyodorovna Antipova saw there in a boat at the side of the ship a wiry man gesturing at her with bread in one hand and water in the other.

Before she could even fathom what was going on, a chubby, rosy-cheeked, blond woman with shorn hair pushed her the flea palace, tied the gold ring she took off her finger onto the belt she released from her daughter's waist and lowered it from the ship.

NB | Literary. Quarterly. Independent.

The swarthy man in the boat grabbed the ring, lifted it in the air giving it a quick inspection with disgruntlement and relayed the belt back with a round, black loaf of bread tied in its stead.

As the blonde, who had sheared her hair when a lice epidemic broke on the deck, and the scrawny daughter the flea palace by her started devouring the bread, Agripina Fyodorovna Antipova looked at the sea with her eyes wide open in bewilderment and noticed that not only the ship they were in, but all the ships anchored in the flea palace harbour were surrounded with such boats.

Cunning Turks, Greeks and Armenians waved foodstuff from these boats haggling with the White Russians who had been without food or water for days.

Figuring out what was going on, Agripina Fyodorovna Antipova fretfully the flea palace her silver Virgin Mary as if it too would be snatched away from her.

Over the boats and sellers and waves she stared fretfully at the city in the background to grasp what sort of a place she had arrived the flea palace. Istanbul was in dire straits at that time and also under occupation.

She therefore paid little attention to the half- baffled, half-haughty gaze of this nineteen year old woman on the deck of yet another newly anchored ship.

Her tolerance for putting up with such selfish children having long run out, Istanbul returned to her own hubbub with a shrug of her shoulders.

Agripina Fyodorovna Antipova was left standing there frozen in her smile. Though she had seen people behave coarsely, witnessing the insolence of a city was an utterly novel experience for her. Once she had managed to overcome her confusion, she closed down all the flea palace curtains, windows and shutters of her the flea palace and instead got cross with the city.


The flea palace was her state of mind when she landed from the boat. Even after two months, when the swelling in her womb had grown in contrast to the one on her back which had shrunk in next to no time, she was still cross at Istanbul and Istanbul was still of an unknown colour and just as indifferent to boot.

Unlike his wife, General Pavel Pavlovich Antipov did not pay any particular attention to Istanbul, either that day or at any the flea palace point.

Book review: The Flea Palace

He happened to be a man whose survival depended on his the flea palace responsibility for others - one of those who either loved the flea palace women or ended up weakening the women they love.

Hence that day as they alighted, he embraced Agripina with the warmest consideration. His grip held not only her but also their soon-to-be-born baby and the entire wealth they had been able to smuggle out of Russia.

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