The Forty Rules of Love, By Elif Shafak

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The Independent Culture

Skittish and serious, satirical and otherworldly, Elif Shafak's fiction trips across the lines between the spirit and the flesh. Her latest novel, a chart-topper in her native Turkey, characteristically yokes together far-flung people, eras and events.

A Scottish Sufi mystic and novelist, "Aziz Z Zahara", enters the life of Ella, a lonely Jewish housewife from New England. And, 650 years earlier, the poet Rumi loses his mentor Shams.

Whether in medieval Konya or Massachusetts today, Shafak's depictions of the winding road to enlightenment have a mischievous zest that can seduce the most irreligious readers. This time-shifting "search for the divine" may lack a destination, but the journey still enchants.