Book Review: “The Flea Palace” by Elif Shafak

Flea Palace
The Flea Palace

Elif Shafak is one of my favourite writers, I loved The Bastard of Istanbul and The Architect’s Apprentice. This novel however left me disappointed, it is not a bad book but its plot is difficult to follow. The story revolves around Bonbon Palace, an apartment block in Istanbul built on an old graveyard, that is teeming with vermin. Each chapter takes place in a different apartment, it almost read like a series of short stories about a bunch of different people who all live in the same place, it lack the threads to connect the characters into a cohesive plot. There are a lot of lengthy lists related to garbage, which seemed a bit excessive.

flea palace writing
part of a long section on graffiti related to the dumping of garbage

Nothing much happens, a pest controller, the strangely named Injustice comes to inspect the insect infestation, different residents react to the garbage smell in different ways but I found it difficult to relate to the characters, some of whom seemed a bit cartoony. Maybe I need to drink some raki to empathise with the cast.

If you are new to Elif Shafak, I would recommend you try one of her other books like The Bastard of Istanbul.

My rating 3 out of 5

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