The text is cyclically structured-maybe superficially in the pretty much prosaic setup of the story, but writer obviously gave it more thought than we might think. I read somewhere that E. Shafak is a clever, beautiful woman. Maybe she had some bad experience with the gazes of the people? It is an usually overlooked topic, especially today when the world, pushed by the media magnates and debilism of the media market, degenerated into a celebrity culture, in which everybody seems to be asking for attention. But it is easy to imagine the topic as taken in this novel might be a hot one for many people. I remember how I thought, on seeing some really beautiful women, how their life must be affected by their beauty. And it usually invoked sadness, as it is such an unnecessary weight in one's life.
E. Shafak here chose to invert the role and speak about attracting attention by uglyness. She writes about weird and rather unusual connection of two people, fed by them being outcasts because of their appearance. It separated them from the world of "invisible", average population. They were too much visible, especially if going out together. So much that they chose not to go out in their usual persona, but to invert roles, and spice them with additional weirdness.
It is a story with insight into the world of distorted vision, not of the eye, but of the soul. A distorsion more painful, and more haunting, because of its permanence, than actual broken bone or psychological condition.
Intertwined into the story is the typically Turkish fascination with weird and unusual-it is also present in Arab world, an cultural atavism from the times before the TV and mass media. Boredom was then often chased away with the theater of weirdness or show of unusual. Today it would be in a bad taste, the world became a more emphatic place.