Elif Shafak: If Trees Could Speak
In her Booker-shortlisted novel 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World, Elif Shafak entered the mind of a dying sex worker lying murdered in an Istanbul alley. The story moved from brutal realism to the magical world of the afterlife. Now Shafak has turned her attention to another part of the Levant region, and to another example of how someone’s memory can be kept alive by the people and things that surround them.
The Island of Missing Trees is set in Cyprus, where two people from opposite sides of the country’s conflict fall in love. They meet secretly in a derelict taverna, their only witness a fig tree growing through the broken roof. Later, the couple take a cutting from the tree and smuggle it to their garden in London where it thrives and is loved by their daughter. She in turn travels to the country to untangle some of the secrets and silences of her parents’ past. Always a joy to hear, Shafak shares her research into the surprising links between humans and the natural world with her usual insight and eloquence.