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The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  176 ratings  ·  40 reviews
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. 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 s ...more
Paperback, 268 pages
Published August 17th 2017 by Wild Dingo Press
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3.56  · 
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 ·  176 ratings  ·  40 reviews

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Michael Livingston
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. 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.
Simultaneously a modern yet mythical retelling of the Iranian Revolution.
The narrative style is unusual and I understand it draws stylistically from Persian storytelling traditions.
An amazing first novel, an interesting choice for the Stella Prize shortlist. Beyond a doubt a wonderfully told story, yet the unusual structure and subject perhaps may alienate all but the most adventurous of readers.
I enjoyed the book immensely and it is well worth the effort and energy to read.
I would be very inte
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Lisa by: Brendan Fredericks
It’s a stunning novel. It’s written in a lyrical magical realism style, which seems bizarre at first – until the author’s purpose becomes clear. This style is both a tribute to classical Persian storytelling and an appropriate response to the madness of the world she is describing. 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. While there is no solace to be had in the ...more
Mohammed Morsi
Jul 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic journey. A recommended read.
It's not your usual writing style but once you let yourself flow along and be carried (by the excellent translation), there is a story that will teach you, make you happy and sad, enlightened and grateful.
Definitely recommended.
Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar is set in Iran in the period immediately after the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Using magic realism and classical Persian tales, Azar tells the story of a family deeply affected by the post-revolutionary chaos and brutality.

Things I understand and appreciate about The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree:

01. That it is a stunning example of using folklore to tell a modern story.

02. That Persian folklore is rich and I knew very little of it
Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Such a powerful read! Rich with magical realism, this was right up my street. It also reminded me somewhat of Salman Rushdie’s writing style.

This is a story of an Iranian family, and how the Iranian Revolution impacted on their lives collectively, and individually. Torn apart and traumatised, the effects are far-reaching. Widening the scope, there is also a bigger story in there, of the effects war and religious extremism has on the country as a whole.

Sometimes you need a touch of the fantastic
Rashida Murphy
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shokoofeh Azar’s extraordinary first novel recalls many of the elements of consummate story-telling associated with Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Salman Rushdie, along with Azar’s own countrywomen, Porochista Khakhpour and Banafsheh Serov. The story is fresh, original and incandescent in its handling of the Islamic Revolution on the lives of the ordinary citizens of Iran and in its weaving together of Persian folklore and magic realism. The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree chronicles the lives o ...more
For me this was a very unusual novel with elements that I'll never understand. But what a book!
Narrated by a 13 year old Iranian girl whose family flees the Islamic Revolution of the 70s to a remote village where they hope for peace. Each member of the family is featured at various lengths as to what has happened and is happening to them.
Sounds simple but the story is layered with ghosts, jinns, spells, Iranian folklore, debates on death versus life, the beauty of nature, wise men, sad men, love
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful read, so different to anything I've read before. Beautiful lyrical writing.
Brona's Books
Feb 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
May even be a 4 & half star rating!

I feel that I will definitely reread this book one day.

Magical realism can be a problem for many readers I know. I'm happy to embrace some forms of magic realism more than others. I especially like those that draw fairy tales, fables and myths into our modern real-world setting. (FYI: I'm not so keen on the type of magic realism that brings in a lot of deliberately disorientating layers and details. I like my magical realism to still make sense somehow!)

Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Short listed for the Stella Prize 2018

'And love, only love
carried me to the expanse of life's sorrow
delivered me to the places to become a bird.'

This book transported me to a time, place and culture I had little knowledge of and filled me with wonder, respect and despair. It shows the effect of the Islamic Revolution of 1979 on an Iranian family of 5; Father Hushang, Mother Roza, Sister Beeta, Brother Shorab and our narrator Bahar, the youngest daughter. Bahar's narrative has an omniscient voice
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is not an easy read. Religious persecution is not a nice topic and this novel ventures into territory that is traumatic and at times the allegorical writing is difficult to follow.However, it made me think and wonder about what happens to individuals, family and community when all hope is lost. How people can either choose to live and accept evil, lose connections with their past or just live in the moment in order to survive.

There are a number of references to the Zoroastrians who wer
Sonia Nair
Aug 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
A reimagining of the 1979 Islamic Revolution and its aftermath, Shokoofeh Azar’s The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree expertly traces the travails of a family of five during one of the most turbulent times in Iran’s political history.

Read the rest of my review on Books+Publishing here:
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
3rd read for Stella Prize 2018.

I hate to do this for another Stella Prize read this year, but I don't have time for books I'm not enjoying. I made it 112 pages into this one before giving up. The thing is, I thought it was beautifully written for most of those pages but I found the style and plot so confusing that it ultimately wasn't worth it. I'm starting to think magical realism isn't my thing.
Sahar Fazli
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If imagination was a tree, Shokoofeh’s Azar’s land of imagination is a mysterious forest, dense with oak tree trunks and branches. As an oak-tree-enthusiast, it is no surprise how much I enjoyed reading through the pages of this book even though it portrayed one of the darkest moments of Iran’s history, the aftermath of the 1979’s revolution. As an Iranian reader, specifically born in northern part of Iran, where most of the story is narrated, there have been many cultural elements that beautifu ...more
The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree is a mesmerising story set in Iran after the Islamic revolution of 1979. Shokoofeh Azar uses a magical realism style to subtly reveal the horrors and ongoing misery inflicted on families who disagree with the policies imposed by the contemporary religious regime.
By including magical elements, dreams and dream interpreters, ancient Persian spirits and other mythical beings, she allows her story to include so much more than the total destruction of one fami
Mar 23, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a beautiful and tragic fantastical retelling of the Islamic revolution beginning in 1979 from the perspective of one family who escapes from the intensity of the city to a quieter life in the country.Azar uses myth and magical realism to explore the tragic ramifications of revolution on the everyday people trying to live peaceful lives. This is the story of Azar’s people that she was sadly unable to tell in her home country and instead had to seek refuge here in Australia. It also has th ...more
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Both light-hearted and almost fairy-tale like, and deeply moving and grounded in a particular historical moment in Iran, this is an amazing novel. It makes you want to cry one minute, laugh the next, and yet it skips lightly, not heavy or overwhelming. Romantic, idealistic and realistic too. Also, if you interested in learning more about Iranian culture and history, it is very useful. As a trauma counsellor, I have had many Iranian clients and this novel helps me to understand their world view a ...more
Feb 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Beautiful and weird (like only magical realism can be) this was so sad and terrible but also kind of hopeful. I gave it 3.5 stars
Carina Howitt
Jan 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
A huge challenge that is sincere in its magical realism. At times the purpose was hard to follow but full marks to bringing such a huge topic to an individual family.
Maïa Grange
May 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is unlike anything I have ever read, and I loved it.
Andrew Lucas
Apr 16, 2019 rated it liked it
I'm not sure what to say about 'The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree'. Certainly the author has a fantastic imagination and can put that imagination down in highly literate prose. I feel that anything I say will be a judgment on myself rather than fair to the book or the author. I found the book inaccessible, but this is likely down to the genre, and I am an outsider to the genre. Because of this, I couldn't empathise with the characters and the full horror of their experience in post-revolut ...more
Backstory Journal
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree, written by Shokoofeh Azar who now calls Australia home, was shortlisted for the 2018 Stella Prize. We are delighted to include this review in our special edition.

The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree is a deeply evocative novel written by Iranian born author, Shokoofeh Azar in the years following her acceptance to Australia as a political refugee. The book tells the story of an educated Iranian family who refuse to give up their intellectual freedom in
James Whitmore
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
I found this an interesting and sometimes poignant novel in a beautiful setting. It is the story of an Iranian family in the decades after the 1979 revolution that replaced a monarchy with an Islamic republic and severely restricted social and political lives. The story begins in 1988 during the massacre of 5,000 political enemies of the state (the real number could be much higher or lower), and the execution of Sohrab, son of Roza and Hushang, and brother to Beeta and Bahar.

We soon find out th
Pip Brennan
Jan 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book immerses you into the world of magical realism and real-world horror of war and dispossession. Shokoofeh Azar's first novel is complex and demanding, and it stays with you well after you've finished.
Dec 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cel Jel
Apr 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Not written in a style that I am used to, the blurb on the back mentions magical realism and refers to persian fairy tales and other heritage as a background to the style.
A story of a family whose comfortable life is disrupted by the revolution that brought Khomeini to power and saw many lives lost, damaged, or changed totally. To enlighten yourself with the history of a country in an unusual story, this book is worth the read. At times it is hard going, for the fantastical nature of parts of th
Aug 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I think this was a very courageous novel, Courageous because of detailing the personal impacts of the Iranian revolution on families and individuals, and courageous in its style (mix of prose and fairy tales, with a touch of magic realism. I was gripped by this novel and it carried me along its path.
Shani Hartley
Jun 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I’m not usually a fan of the mystical and spiritual in the novels I read but this book was superbly written and the supernatural softened the blow of Iran’s harsh reality. Otherwise I would have been crying all the way through. Instead I enjoyed the lyricism and the humanity portrayed and saved the crying for the end.
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Iranian by birth, author and journalist:
*Writer of “The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree”
* Shortlisted at the Stella Prize 2018
* Shortlisted at The University of Queensland Fiction Book Award 2018
*Writer of two collections of short stories
*Writer of a children book
*The first Iranian woman backpacker who hitchhiked along the Silk Road 2004
*14 years experience of writing in left-wing newspapers
“It's life's failure and its deficiencies that make someone a daydreamer. I don't understand why prophets and philosophers didn't see the significance in that. I think imagination is at the heart of reality, or at least, is the immediate definition and interpretation of reality.” 0 likes
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