In this short but urgent manifesto, the ever-marvellous Turkish author argues that 20 years ago, we lived in a time of optimism where it seemed as though liberal democracy had triumphed. Now, however, we have entered an age of pessimism. In a rallying cry for hopefulness and the power of stories, she explores how writing can nurture democracy, tolerance and progress; and, drawing on her own experiences in this expansion on her Wellcome Prize lecture from the 2019 Hay Festival, she tackles urgent questions of our time in a passionate plea for hope and truth.
How to Stay Sane in an Age of Division is a sharp and elegant pamphlet of just 90 pages. Though better known as a novelist (10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World was shortlisted for the Booker last year), Shafak is a political theorist by academic training. Here she combines her two skills, drawing on some of her favourite fictional themes (the complexities of storytelling, multiple identities, women’s voices) to dissect the anger and anxieties of contemporary society, and the disappointments so neatly symbolised by the names of little Facebook and Like.