The novel tells the story of a family living through the turbulent period of Iranian history when the Islamic Revolution and the Iran-Iraq war brought them overwhelming grief. The youth’s 13-year-old sister Bahar had burned to death in a cellar when zealots stormed the family home in Tehran – a mansion filled with Persian poetry, tar music and an “uncensored” library, from Rumi and Shakespeare to Sadegh Hedayat’s modern classic The Blind Owl. The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree is the story of a family of five set during the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and the years afterwards. The author, who sought political asylum in Australia in 2011, has said she wrote the novel primarily for western readers. Roughly midway through the novel a character makes reference to ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ and the reader can sense the influence of Marquez and magical realism throughout the story. August 17th 2017 evolutionary Guards pull a family off the road to check for forbidden items in their silver Buick; they find neither alcohol nor music but. The sorrow … Shokoofeh Azar’s The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree, set directly after the 1979 Iranian Revolution and recently shortlisted for the International Booker Prize, owes as much to Persian and … She looked at we who had died. Have you ever tried to pour an ocean into a thimble? The dead who had been the first to meet her in the world of the living outside Razan. When I want to learn about world events and political revolutions there's a reason why I don't only read newspaper articles and history books. Putting the stress on the word wanted, Dad says most people wanted to get used to everything. I have not yet finished reading the book. Using the lyrical magic realism style of classical Persian storytelling, Azar draws the reader deep into the heart of a family caught in the maelstrom of post-revolutionary chaos and brutality that sweeps across an ancient land and its people. I wanted to tell her this, but was afraid of bringing her damaged spirit down even further. The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree review – magic realism in Iran After the 1979 Islamic revolution, a bereaved family seek solace in the ancient forests of northern Iran, in Shokoofeh Azar’s … Simultaneously a modern yet mythical retelling of the Iranian Revolution. The enlightenment of the greengage tree is a wonderful read if you like books which pose these sorts of fundamental questions about how to live in difficult times. But, too often, it reads like a draft, tripping up the reader. To order a copy go to guardianbookshop.com . They could watch as a pregnant Baha’i woman was thrown from the roof of her house in the name of Islam to the words, “God is great.” They could gradually become accustomed to seeing executions moved from inside prisons out into city squares and parks in front of their homes. I read this book due to its longlisting for the 2020 Booker International Prize. As four guards and a mullah pursue them, Sohrab is removed in handcuffs, Reza abandons their forest home, and Beeta, grappling with delusions, morphs into a mermaid in the Caspian sea. The Enlightenment of the Greengage Treeis a fantastical tale set in post-revolutionary Iran that … The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree is a blend of magical realism and historical fiction set during the Iranian Revolution of 1979. It is about oppression and how when it takes hold, you rely on what you believe and have faith in to make living bearable. Sadly, the wandering storyline was too hard to follow, and I was never vested in any of the characters, probably because of the utter absence of cohesion. I wish I had a garden - then I would plant a greengage tree instead. It would always remind me of Roza, Hushang, Sohrab, Beeta, Bahar and the book which blew me away. Some playful prose, as when Reza and a blue-eyed Italian backpacker find themselves “high upon the enlightenment of love”, suggests a Farsi Isabel Allende. Their plan is to keep both their intellectual freedom and their lives. Revolutionary Guards pull a family off the road to check for forbidden items in their silver Buick; they find neither alcohol nor music but Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. Footnotes proliferate: Azar deploys dreams and an encyclopaedic knowledge of Persian folklore, from forest jinns to black snow, to mythologise a revolution’s decay and a civilisation devouring itself. Literally when I was typing this, the book was shortlisted for International Booker Prize 2020. We follow the destruction of an upper middle class family that had done well under the leadership of Pahlevi, but whose education and wealth attracted the attention and persecution of Ayatollah Khomeini and his thugs. I really wanted to like this book, but it didn't let me. The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree,however, is no straightforward historical family drama. With "The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree", Shokoofeh Azar has created a beautiful, sad fable set in a horrible reality. Like others, I was interested by the notion of a family narrative with interwoven Persian tales: magical realism, mythology, historical events, etc. (#gifted @thebookerprizes) ‘Or if just once they were to watch and understand the blooming of a flower or birth of a lamb, using their senses of sight and hearing and smell completely, perhaps humans would come to the conclusion that in all the days and nights of their lives, only that minute in which they are immersed is worth calculating.’. It's fascinating to read something so deeply Iranian - lots of mythology and history bleeds into the story - but I like my narratives built on more solid ground. Narrated by the ghost of the family’s 13-year-old daughter Bahar, The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree … To order a copy go to guardianbookshop.com. The novel depicts the life … We are delighted to include this review in our special edition. The shah’s Literacy Corps is mentioned, but not his secret police. Among the recent quarantine books, "The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree" stands out for me. Or maybe it is part and parcel of magic storytelling? The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree speaks of the power of imagination when confronted with cruelty, and of our human need to make sense of trauma through the ritual of storytelling itself. Consider this description of a treehouse: “It had a window facing the sunrise and a door facing its setting” – the sun’s setting, that is. One of the key elements of magical realism is that the fantastical elements of the stories are nowhere near as surreal as the reality they depict, a reality of. But it isn’t long before the revolution catches up with them. The “insatiable” eight-year Iran-Iraq war, stoked “with the flesh of child mine-sweepers”, is poignantly evoked through “orphan mothers” who bury their sons with the small golden bells that are tied around children’s ankles “so they wouldn’t get lost”. These tales which draw upon Persian mythology are a way for the characters to process what's happening to them but they also keep their culture alive when it's being quashed by an enforced monotheistic government. Bahar and her family leave Tehran to start a new life in a small village. But I don't feel happy at all." The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree is an extraordinarily powerful and evocative literary novel set in Iran in the period immediately after the Islamic Revolution in 1979. The complete review 's Review : The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree begins with a description of events in 1988, with the hanging of Sohrab, the brother of the narrator, after years of incarceration. Azar has employed several elements of the ancient Persian … It’s written in a lyrical magical realism style, which seems bizarre at first – until the author’s purpose becomes clear. “The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree” describes an Iranian family splintered apart by the country's 1979 Islamic Revolution. “The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree is a hugely ambitious book, blending familial drama with the history of a nation during a conflicted era.”—Words Without Borders “Azar’s novel is sad, funny, poetic, … Reviews. You don't have to grow up fated to replicate the lives of others. Sanctuary and serenity … Mazandaran province, in northern Iran. She is there to tell the strange story of her mother Roza’s disappearance, the attacks on her sister Beeta, and the destruction of everything her father Hushang holds dear. I think because it brings together the marvellous of magic realism and the intimacy of Persian folk stories. Azar sets the tone of magical realism juxtaposed with harsh realities early on, from the very beginning, when the narrator’s mother receives enlightenment from a greengage tree: “Beeta says that Mom attained enlightenment at exactly 2:35 p.m. on August 18, 1988, atop the grove’s tallest greengage plum tree … It seems every preview of this book gives away the “secret” that Bahar is, at the time she is telling the story, a ghost and the story of her death forms part of the narrative. Like others, I was interested by the notion of a family narrative with interwoven Persian tales: magical realism, mythology, historical events, etc. In the most convincing section, set decades after the revolution, the bereaved father passes morality police and chador-clad women in Tehran, feeling “alien in his own country”. I think it is part and parcel of magical realism. You are suddenly light and free and no longer afraid of death, sickness, judgement or religion; you don't have to grow up fated to replicate the lives of others. Delivery … Mystery/Thriller. Europa Editions. This is the first review of the International Booker Prize 2020 longlisted book. After passing the copy around, they conclude that “politically, it was not a dangerous book”. “But for us, for our family, enough was enough. It is ostensibly the dead girl’s ghost who narrates how her bereaved parents, Reza and Hushang, her sister Beeta and brother Sohrab, sought “sanctuary and serenity” in the ancient forests of Mazandaran in northern Iran. The magical realism was tedious at times, but I liked the way things came together in the end. Yet to overlook the book’s flaws risks what South African writers under apartheid, eager for a robust critical response to their art, memorably scorned as “solidarity criticism”. The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree is a book seeped in reality and dreams. Putting the stress on the word wanted, Dad says most people wanted to get used to everything. The … The presence of ghosts everywhere seems almost realistic when the entire country is plunged into mourning by the Islamic regime. If yes, you know exactly what I am feeling, trying to write a review of Shokoofeh Azar's novel which I finished tonight. The plot itself suffers from blind alleys (an irrelevant treasure trunk); a premature climax (Khomeini’s early nemesis); and a limp ending. Ostensible the novel follows the story of an Iranian family following the revolution, yet Azar chooses to interweave elements of fantasy into the story. Marquez is known for popularizing the style, but I doubt it is geographically contained/defined. This style is both a tribute to classical Persian storytelling and an appropriate response to the madness of the world she is describing. This style is both a tribute to classical Persian storytelling and an appropriate response to the madness of the world she is describing. There's so much more to a country, its people and their culture than can be found in facts. p57, This book is about life in Iran following the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Browse The Guardian Bookshop for a big selection The family persist in referring to this modern orgy of book burning and killing as “the Arab invasion”: “They came and burnt, plundered, and killed. Detained, he writes a record of his life, investing desperate hope in the power of the imagination to transport him from the “stale minds” of his captors. The trajectory of some of the sentences and paragraphs is so much like Gabriel Garcia Marquez's that I wondered if that is somehow down to the translation. This book seemed like an Iranian version of ‘100 Years of Solitude’. I struggled with this - lots of digressive magical realism in the style of Marquez, which isn't something I really have a lot of patience with. Title: The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree Translated from the Persian by Adrien Kijek Publisher: Wild Dingo Press, 2017 ISBN: 9780987381309 Review copy courtesy of Wild Dingo Press. Fiction. Such a powerful read! It is the regime which seems unrealistic because it was responsible for the execution of thousands and thousands of its own people: dissidents and conscripts in the senseless eight-year war…. It follows a family from the 1979 revolution to present day Iran. The story is set in Iran in the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic Revolution and we follow the fortunes of Bahar’s family as she tells us about her mother, father, sister and brother. It’s written in a lyrical magical realism style, which seems bizarre at first – until the author’s purpose becomes clear. When I want to learn about world events and political revolutions there's a reason why I don't only read newspaper articles and history books. The story is set in Iran in the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic Revolution and we follow the fortunes of Bahar’s family as she tells us about her mother, father, sister and brother. Hi, Guys, it’s Kamil here. • The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar, translated by Anonymous, is published by Europa Editions (RRP £13.99). The novel doesn't shrink from the brutality of what happens to people who are imprisoned, murdered or suffer wider violence because their beliefs and opinions run counter to the new order. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. Ostensible the novel follows the story of an Iranian family following the revolution, yet Azar chooses to interweave elements of fantasy into the story. It spans decades, continuing up until present day. For me this was a very unusual novel with elements that I'll never understand. It combines the brutal reality of injustice, loss and grief with fable-like magical elements complete with jinns, ghosts, prophesies and even a mermaid. Foreword Review TRANSLATIONS The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree Shokoofeh Azar Europa Editions (Jan 7, 2020) Softcover $18.00 (272pp) 978-1-60945-565-1 The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree … A finalist for the International Booker Prize. One of the key elements of magical realism is that the fantastical elements of the stories are nowhere near as surreal as the reality they depict, a reality of political violence and vituperation and this is no less true of and Iran which has become intoxicated with religious fervour and intolerance and which seeks to erase the richness if its past beneath the myopic gaze of religious fundamentalism. The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree Shokoofeh Azar, trans. It means you were lovable enough but he wasn't smart enough to realize it.”, Adelaide Festival Award Nominee for Fiction (2020), The Stella Prize Nominee for Shortlist (2018), International Booker Prize Nominee for Shortlist (2020). “The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree” describes an Iranian family splintered apart by the country's 1979 Islamic Revolution. It opens in 1988 as a mother’s grief-driven epiphany at the top of a “greengage plum tree” coincides with the execution of her son, hanged without trial and dumped in a mass grave in the deserts south of Tehran – “one of fifteen thousand people … killed for their political beliefs in the 1980s, alone”. It could be a grim read, given … Available postage-free from Fishpond:The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree … The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree is an extraordinarily powerful and evocative literary … Bahar’s immolation is likened to the Arab conquest of Persia, when Islam ousted Zoroastrianism around the seventh century. For one thing, the story is told by the lively, ever-present ghost of 13-year-old Bahar, who died in a fire set by … They flee their home in Tehran and settle in a small village with the hope of continuing their lives in relative peace but find the new regime imposes changes which hinder or end their lives. 'Shokoofeh Azar's The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree is an astoundingly imaginative work of fiction with deep roots in Persian culture. The censors have been less forgiving of Shokoofeh Azar’s first novel for adults, which was banned in Iran, though many copies have been printed underground. There are a lot of good things about dying. Deep in the cavity of a mountain, construction begins. I was very quickly pulled into this book and for the most part seamlessly travelled between the realistic part of the story and parts where the author shifted into the character's imagination. 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