I am so excited to say that my guest on the great women artists podcast is one of the most pioneering – and my favourite – writers alive today, Elif Shafak!
In this episode, we talk about the power of storytelling, the importance of writing women's lives into history and fighting for their rights. Shafak has said: "...as a young Turkish student, it occurred to me that the history that was taught to me top down could be seen in different ways depending on who is telling the stories..."
We speak about Artemisia Gentileschi to Frida Kahlo, Ana Mendieta to Georgia O'Keeffe; Shafak's upbringing and the importance of multitudinous narratives, and the power of images when it comes to writing novels.
We explore the similarities between a painting and a novel; how storytelling can be transmitted through so many different artforms, from word of mouth or the written word. As a novelist, Shafak spends so much time dreaming up worlds, and, in a way, this is not that dissimilar from an artist.
But we also talk about the importance of emotion, and how stories can give us that, as Shafak has said: “Why is it that we underestimate feelings and perceptions? I think it’s going to be one of our biggest intellectual challenges, because our political systems are replete with emotions … and yet within the academic and among the intelligentsia, we are yet to take emotions seriously…”
Shafak is the author of 19 books, which have been translated into 57 languages. A shortlister for the Booker Prize and Women's Prize for Fiction, she holds a PhD in political science and she has taught at universities in Turkey, the US and the UK.
A Fellow and a Vice President of the Royal Society of Literature, Shafak is also instrumental in her work as an advocate for women's rights, LGBTQ+ rights and freedom of expression. A twice TED Global speaker, Shafak contributes to publications around the world, such as the Guardian with her poignant articles on women’s rights in Turkey.
Books by Elif:
THIS EPISODE IS GENEROUSLY SUPPORTED BY THE LEVETT COLLECTION:
https://www.instagram.com/famm.mougins // https://www.merrellpublishers.com/9781858947037
Katy Hessel: @thegreatwomenartists / @katy.hessel
Sound editing by Nada Smiljanic
Music by Ben Wetherfield