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The Happiness of Blond People by bestselling, multi-award-winning novelist Elif Shafak, author of The Bastard of Istanbul, is a powerful essay on immigration, multiculturalism and the experience of Muslims in Europe - available only as a Penguin Short.
"You know, I never understand. How come their children are so quiet and well disciplined?"
"Yeah," said the distressed father, his voice suddenly softer. "Blond children never cry, do they?"
As Elif Shafak stands in line at the airport, she overhears a Turkish father expressing to a friend his bewilderment at the cultural differences he's experienced since immigrating to northern Europe. Is it true, she wonders, that the citizens of these countries are genuinely happier? Why do people leave their homes for other countries? And what lessons can we all learn, for the creation of truly harmonious societies, from the experiences of immigrants?
In the light of the recent backlash against multiculturalism and the influx of millions of Muslims into Europe from the east, this powerful and personal essay uses the lived experience of immigrants to examine this most hotly debated subject.
Elif Shafak is the acclaimed author of the award-winning The Gaze and The Bastard of Istanbul and is the foremost female author in Turkey. She is a contributor for the Telegraph, Guardian and The New York Times and her TED talk on the politics of fiction has received over 300,000 views since July 2010. She is the recipient of nine prestigious international honours and awards including the Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres, long-listing for the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Maria Grazia Cutuli Award. She is married with two children and divides her time between Istanbul and the UK.