The Island of Missing Trees Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
Brought to you by Penguin.
Shortlisted for the Women’s Prize 2022
A Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick.
A top 10 Sunday Times best seller.
Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award 2021.
A rich, magical new novel from the Booker-shortlisted author of 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World.
Two teenagers, a Greek Cypriot and a Turkish Cypriot, meet at a taverna on the island they both call home. The taverna is the only place that Kostas and Defne can meet in secret, hidden beneath the blackened beams from which hang garlands of garlic and chilli peppers, creeping honeysuckle, and in the centre, growing through a cavity in the roof, a fig tree. The fig tree witnesses their hushed, happy meetings; their silent, surreptitious departures. The fig tree is there, too, when war breaks out, when the capital is reduced to ashes and rubble, when the teenagers vanish. Decades later, Kostas returns—a botanist, looking for native species—looking, really, for Defne. The two lovers return to the taverna to take a clipping from the fig tree and smuggle it into their suitcase, bound for London. Years later, the fig tree in the garden is their daughter Ada's only knowledge of a home she has never visited, as she seeks to untangle years of secrets and silence, and find her place in the world.
The Island of Missing Trees is a rich, magical tale of belonging and identity, love and trauma, nature and renewal, from the Booker-shortlisted author of 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World.
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|Listening Length||11 hours and 44 minutes|
|Narrator||Daphne Kouma, Amira Ghazalla|
|Audible.in Release Date||05 August 2021|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #2,903 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#16 in Magical Realism Fiction
#144 in Literary Fiction
#5,580 in Contemporary Fiction (Books)
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.