The Gaze by Elif Shafak: A new title from the author of The Flea Palace, shortlisted for the Independent Prize for Foreign Fiction and chosen for Waterstone’s 2005 Summer Reading promotion.
In her prize-wining novel, The Gaze, Shafak explores the subject of body image and desirability. An overweight woman and her lover, a dwarf, are sick of being stared at wherever they go, and decide to reverse roles. The man goes out wearing make up, and the woman draws a moustache on her face.
The couple deal with the gaze of passers by in different ways. The woman wants to hide away from the world, while the man meets them head on, even compiling his own ‘Dictionary of the Gaze’ to show the powerful effects a simple look can have.
The narrative of The Gaze is intertwined with the dwarf’s dictionary entries and the story of a bizarre freak-show organized in Istanbul in the 1880s as Shafak explores the damage which can be done by our simple desire to look at other people.