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The Island of Missing Trees: Shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022 Kindle Edition
SHORTLISTED FOR THE WOMEN'S PRIZE 2022
A REESE WITHERSPOON BOOK CLUB PICK
SHORTLISTED FOR THE COSTA NOVEL AWARD 2021
A rich, magical novel from the Booker-shortlisted author of 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World - now a top ten Sunday Times bestseller
It is 1974 on the island of Cyprus. Two teenagers, from opposite sides of a divided land, meet at a tavern in the city they both call home. The tavern is the only place that Kostas, who is Greek and Christian, and Defne, who is Turkish and Muslim, can meet, in secret, hidden beneath the blackened beams from which hang garlands of garlic, chilli peppers and wild herbs. This is where one can find the best food in town, the best music, the best wine. But there is something else to the place: it makes one forget, even if for just a few hours, the world outside and its immoderate sorrows.
In the centre of the tavern, growing through a cavity in the roof, is a fig tree. This tree will witness their hushed, happy meetings, their silent, surreptitious departures; and the tree will be there when the war breaks out, when the capital is reduced to rubble, when the teenagers vanish and break apart.
Decades later in north London, sixteen-year-old Ada Kazantzakis has never visited the island where her parents were born. Desperate for answers, she seeks to untangle years of secrets, separation and silence. The only connection she has to the land of her ancestors is a Ficus Carica growing in the back garden of their home.
The Island of Missing Trees is a rich, magical tale of belonging and identity, love and trauma, nature, and, finally, renewal.
'This book moved me to tears . . . in the best way. Powerful and poignant' Reese Witherspoon
'A brilliant novel -- one that rings with Shafak's characteristic compassion' Robert Macfarlane
'This is an enchanting, compassionate and wise novel and storytelling at its most sublime' Polly Samson
A wise novel of love and grief, roots and branches, displacement and home, faith and belief. The Island of Missing Trees is balm for our bruised times -- David Mitchell, author of Utopia Avenue
One of the best writers in the world today ― Hanif Kureishi
The Island of Missing Trees is a magical masterpiece . . . Elif Shafak has done it again with this brilliant novel of the secrets of hearts, the history of Cyprus and the beauty of memory. Truly full of miracles. -- Kate Williams
An intimate, affecting memoir . . . Her passion for literature is contagious ― Colleen Mondor on Black Milk
The Island of Missing Trees, for all its uses of enchantment, is a complex and powerful work in which the harrowing material settles on the reader delicately ― FT
Poignant . . . [Shafak] knows exactly when to dangle unanswered questions, when to drench our senses, when to offer meaningful musings, elegant metaphors and tugs at the heartstrings ― Sunday Times
Compassionate and enchanting, it's a transporting tale of roots, renewal and talking trees ― Mail on Sunday, Best New Fiction
Enchanting . . . Shafak's writing is poised and expressive, remarkable for its charm and lyricism . . . The novel is a tapestry of heavy emotions, but it's one that's spun with brightness ― Sunday Telegraph, Novel of the Week
The Cyprus setting is stunningly described in this spellbinding story about identity, love and loss ― Good Housekeeping, 'this month’s 10 books to read right now’ (September)
The Island of Missing Trees is a strong and enthralling work: its world of superstition, natural beauty and harsh tribal loyalties becomes your world . . .for all its uses of enchantment, it is a complex and powerful work in which the harrowing material settles on the reader delicately ― FT
A wonderful rebuke to anthropocentric storytelling . . . Elif's extraordinary new novel about grief, love and memory ― Literary Review
The Cyprus setting is stunningly described in this spellbinding story about identity, love and loss ― Good Houskeeping, best books to read this month
This is a sweeping, romantic tale about love and loss that's so evocative you can smell honeysuckle and figs wafting from the pages ― Red, best books to read this autumn
The wounds inflicted and the search for healing across three generations is explored in the tales of its unforgettable characters . . . beyond the narrative, the author's longing to dissolve barriers between people and the natural world is evident. A beautiful read ― Woman & Home, September Book Club Pick
If Ms Shafak's subjects are sombre, her magical-realist style is anything but . . . Shafak does not shrink from the reality of violence, but she salvages tenderness - even joy - form the wreckage of 20th century history ― Economist
The Island of Missing Trees asks us important questions about losing home, about coping and secrets . . . this is a beautiful novel . . . made ferocious by its uncompromising empathy ― Guardian, Book of the Day
Booker-shortlisted Shafak (10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World) amazes with this resonant story of the generational trauma of the Cypriot Civil War ― Publishers Weekly
A magical story about nature, humanity and love . . . a beautiful contemplation of some of life's biggest questions about identity, history and meaning ― Time, Anticipated Book for Fall 2021 --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
About the Author
- ASIN : B08SGNR34K
- Publisher : Penguin (5 August 2021)
- Language : English
- File size : 2790 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 345 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: #17,073 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in India on 4 June 2022
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Top reviews from India
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भाव निर्मिति - उदासीनता😔, भय 😨( in characters)
What do you notice when you look at a tree
- design of leaves
- girth of trunk
- depth of roots
- different hues
- barrenness of branches
Well I always look at the canopy first. How huge it is, what all can it envelope. Just like the huge support system that family and friends can provide
I remember so many advices about relocating to First world countries for better opportunities. In those difficult times to leave was so easy but to stay so difficult. Yet I chose to stay 'coz when you leave, a part of you stays back. How could I have been whole again
We all have to leave home someday though, to build houses. Hoping that these houses will become home again by placing the bricks of ambitions & cementing it with memories
"that is what migrations and relocations do to us: when you leave your home for unknown shores, you don’t simply carry on as before; a part of you dies inside so that another part can start all over again"
The heart of the story lies in devastation caused by colonialism, forcing people to migrate thus losing what was theirs
Love of Greek Kostas & Turkish Defne was unacceptable in the divided Cyprus. Yet they fight & win a life together 'coz all love stories deserve Happily Everafters. But process to reach there breaks something inside you. The fight to seek what is yours, takes away something that changes you to what you are not
Just like a tree which when replanted in another country, might grow but its fruits might not taste the same
This story is about a fig tree (which doesn't belong to any race, colour, but belongs to all) & Ada (Kostas & Dephne's daughter), both who are seeking life in new shores
Authors writing is enigmatically creative. Much like taking an unpaid vacation to Cyprus - exploring its terrain & cuisine. This book will make you fall in love with its writing & your surroundings
The unique features of this book are
- narrator Fig tree
- detailed Mediterranean cuisine
- enigmatic superstitious rituals
The Island of Missing Trees is a love story – not just of two people, but also of a fig tree, of a teenager and her family, of love that we have for our homelands from which we are forced to flee, or have to in order to lead better lives, and more than anything else, it is a love story of people and nature.
Two teenagers fall in love in Cyprus – one Turkish, the other Greek. They meet at a taverna which is home to them. Kostas and Defne meet in secret, away from people’s prying eyes, in a tavern with a fig tree at its center. The fig tree watching all, observing their love, and jotting memories as time goes by. A war breaks out. The lovers are separated only to meet decades later, and what happens after that is one of the plot points of the book I don’t want to reveal.
The book travels between the past and the present, giving the readers the perspective of the fig tree, of Kostas and Defne’s daughter Ada, and more importantly of what happens to countries when borders are most sought after.
Shafak’s writing is emotional, it is gut-wrenching in so many places – when she speaks of home, of what it is to be driven away, to see neighbours turning on you – it makes you think of the countries currently in conflict and it is all about this – land for them, home for the people who live there.
The layers to this novel are plenty. On one hand, Shafak tackles mental health and its navigation, on the other – the country at war not only with outsiders, but with itself when it comes to love, of ties that are thicker than blood, and ultimately on the idea of what is home and what makes it familiar. I hope this novel makes it to the shortlist of the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022.
Top reviews from other countries
I complemented my reading with its unabridged audiobook edition, narrated by Daphne Kouma and Amira Ghazalla.
This extraordinary novel was originally published in August 2021. It has recently been shortlisted for the 2022 Women’s Prize for Fiction.
Elif Shafak is a writer who has demonstrated her willingness to take innovative paths in her storytelling. In her latest novel this manifests by having a fig tree serving as one of the main narrative viewpoints in this tale of star-crossed lovers.
On the island of Cyprus in 1974 teenagers from opposite sides of a divided land meet at a taverna in Nicosia, the city that they both call home. The taverna is the only place that Kostas, who is Greek and Christian, and Defne, who is Turkish and Muslim, can meet in secret. The taverna is named The Happy Fig and has a fig tree growing through a cavity in the roof.
The fig tree bears witness to their happy meetings and silent departures and is also there when war breaks out and the city reduced to ashes. In the aftermath the young couple are separated.
Decades later the fig tree, or rather a cutting of the original, is smuggled to England in a suitcase by Kostas, now a botanist. It eventually comes to live in his London garden. In the late 2010s sixteen-year-old Ada is aware of the fig tree’s origins. It watches over her as she seeks to untangle years of secrets and silence to find her place in the world.
Elif Shafak weaves her story through time and location in a nonlinear style. However, these shifts were noted in the chapter headings so I didn’t feel adrift. In the audiobook there was also the change in narrators that signalled the shifts.
I adored the fig tree’s accounts of her arboreal life and interactions with other parts of nature. There were also snippets of history and mythology as well as a focus on climate change. Elif Shafak’s descriptions of insects, birds, butterflies as well as trees were lyrical and this was enhanced through hearing it spoken. The poignant conclusion of the novel moved me to tears.
With respect to the audiobook, I appreciated having two narrators. I have listened to a few audiobooks read by Daphne Kouma and find her voice entrancing. She uses quite subtle shifts in inflection and accent for the novel’s various characters.
Amira Ghazalla is known for her work in film and television with only a few audiobooks credited to her. Her voice has a deep timbre, which was apt for the Fig Tree’s chapters given that the tree says that she first came into the world in 1878.
Overall, ‘The Island of Missing Trees’ was exquisitely written and proved an immersive experience. I absolutely loved it and hope that it wins the upcoming Women’s Prize for Fiction.