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The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree

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3.77  ·  Rating details ·  341 ratings  ·  86 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 ...more
Paperback, 268 pages
Published August 17th 2017 by Wild Dingo Press
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Average rating 3.77  · 
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Adina
Mar 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: iran, mbi2020
Now shortlisted for the International Booker Prize 2020

4.5*
Contrary to what dad believe, culture, knowledge and art retreat in the face of violence, the sword and fire.

I guess this novel proves that I am not over magic realism in general but only over some authors representing this genre. I say this because this book is drowning in magic realism, it breaths in and breaths out magical creatures, ghosts, Arabic and Persian mythology.

Shokoofeh Azar is an Iranian writer, living in Australia and
...more
Hugh
Mar 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shortlisted for the Booker International Prize 2020

Azar is an Iranian (or Persian) exile living in Australia - which gives her a degree of license to describe her country's problems that would not be available to anyone still living there - indeed the translator chose to remain anonymous for his/her own safety.

This is an enjoyable magic realist fable, which is very loosely based on the experience of living through Iran's Islamic revolution, but owes much more to Persian and Arabic myths and
...more
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.
Paul Fulcher
The more she read old books such as The Darab Nama, One Thousand and One Nights, Khayyams Nowruz Nama, Hossein Kord Shabestari, The Shahnama, Eskandar Nama, Malek Jamshid, Jame al-Olum, Ajayeb Nama, and Ajaib va Gharaib, the deeper she delved into the magnificent expanse of ocean that was the Iranian peoples real-imaginary beliefs, and became ever more detached from the real, day-to-day world. To deny or forget her past, she read and wrote, submerging herself in the meaning of myth.

The
...more
Lisa
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Lisa by: Brendan Fredericks
Its a stunning novel. Its written in a lyrical magical realism style, which seems bizarre at first until the authors 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
Paula
Mar 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
But for us, for our family, enough was enough. They could watch as a pregnant Bahai 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. Putting the stress on the word wanted, Dad says most people wanted to get used to everything. As if it were a decision they had made in advance as they seized their booty, land, ...more
Lia
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
...more
Abbie | ab_reads
(#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.
.
From the lows of Red Dog I moved on to this absolute GEM of a novel from the International Booker longlist and my faith in the judges was restored. Im going
...more
Neil
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
I read this book due to its longlisting for the 2020 Booker International Prize. The story is set in Iran in the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic Revolution and we follow the fortunes of Bahars family as she tells us about her mother, father, sister and brother. 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. Bahar and her family leave Tehran to start a new life in a small ...more
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
This book seemed like an Iranian version of 100 Years of Solitude. It follows a family from the 1979 revolution to present day Iran. There is lots of magical realism and the book is populated with characters from the local folklore-djinns and soothsayers, mermaids and ghosts. Unfortunately, I found that the fantastical overwhelmed the story of the family to the point I often couldnt tell what was going on. ...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.
Jolanta (knygupe)
10* from 10* and more.
I'm sure, this one gonna be on Man Book International shortlist tomorrow.
... review is coming...
ns510
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 Rushdies 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
...more
Calzean
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,
...more
Claire
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.

Azar uses the lyrical magic realism style of classical Persian storytelling to tell the story of a family of five in the period immediately after the 1979 Islamic revolution and the story is narrated by the spirit of the 13 year old daughter. She wrote the story, inspired by and in an attempt to answer
...more
Rashida Murphy
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shokoofeh Azars extraordinary first novel recalls many of the elements of consummate story-telling associated with Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Salman Rushdie, along with Azars 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 of ...more
Louise
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful read, so different to anything I've read before. Beautiful lyrical writing.
Katia N
Apr 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Literally when I was typing this, the book was shortlisted for International Booker Prize 2020.

In one sentence, if you are a fan of the classic magic realism a-la One Hundred Years of Solitude , you will probably like this book. And it is a harder call, if you like me are not armoured with this work by Marquez. I personally prefer Borges and Cortazar.

For the first two chapters, I really thought i was going to admire this book. For a while now, I've been trying unsuccessfully to find something
...more
Sidharth Vardhan
International Booker long list always bring some amazing books whose existence I would never have known about. This one is a mixture of Marquez and Rushdi's varients of magical realism set in Iran. There might be a few imperfections and there are a few things I didn't fully understand but I loved most of it.

If you like reading about book lovers, you will love it, and there are Iranian fantasy creatures and ghosts and there are love stories and it is a novel about political and social atmosphere
...more
Kate
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
...more
Vesna
If it had not been longlisted for the 2020 Booker International Prize, I might have missed to read this deeply affecting novel about the loving family tragically caught up in the tumultuous political events in modern Iran. I am drawn to magic realism and found the writer Azars lyrical approach to this style fascinating. By embedding it into the Persian mythological and folk storytelling, its a refreshing and novel addition to the canon. Its also quite ambitious as both a political novel and ...more
Vivek Tejuja
Mar 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Four days of frenzied reading. It shouldve taken me not more than two days, but I had to read and stop, stop and read, and read it in huge gulps almost like breathing after being breathless for a long time.

The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree is a book seeped in reality and dreams. It is about oppression and how when it takes hold, you rely on what you believe and have faith in to make living bearable. The story is told by the ghost of a thirteen-year-old girl, Bahar, whose family was forced
...more
Tommi
Mar 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
I reviewed this in the newest reincarnation of my blog, now in the good old ad-saturated Wordpress, will format it later for Goodreads (excuse the design, will work on it in the upcoming days/weeks): https://literarynoise.wordpress.com/2...
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!)

...more
Sandra
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Ella
took me 2 weeks, but I finished a book!

Oh, and the book was quite good. I've now read quite a few books by Iranians in exile, and they do seem to share some traits: notable among them is the massive amounts of literature they all reference and the sheer heft of those nods to a great line of writing. I really enjoyed The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree. It's got a plot situation that could have gone all crazy-magic and mystical, but I felt it was carefully reigned in and just used to tell a
...more
Rosalie
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
...more
Tundra
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
...more
Sonia Nair
Aug 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
A reimagining of the 1979 Islamic Revolution and its aftermath, Shokoofeh Azars The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree expertly traces the travails of a family of five during one of the most turbulent times in Irans political history.

Read the rest of my review on Books+Publishing here: https://www.booksandpublishing.com.au...
...more
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36 followers
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
...more

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“I looked at the eyes of the ghosts sitting around the fire and at Beeta, and suddenly I realized that we dead are the sorrowful part of life, while the living are the joyful side of death. And yet, Beeta was not joyful and it was the sad side of life that she didn't even know she should be joyful in life because there was nothing else she could do. I wanted to tell her this, but was afraid of bringing her damaged spirit down even further. Fortunately, she herself eventually spoke and said, "It seems that from among you, I am the more fortunate because nobody killed me. But I don't feel happy at all." She looked at we who had died. The dead who had been the first to meet her in the world of the living outside Razan. An old man in the group responded, "This is because you don't yet realize how beautiful, young, and healthy you are." Beeta smiled and her cheeks reddened by the light of the fire in silent emotion; and all of us who were dead saw how good the smile looked on her. But as she recalled dark memories, her smile faded and she said, "But the man who loved me simply turned his back on me and married a young girl." The middle-aged man said, "All the better! It means you were lovable enough but he wasn't smart enough to realize it.” 2 likes
“There are a lot of good things about dying. 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.

But for the most important advantage of death is knowing something when I want to know it. Kon fayakon. Piece of cake. If I want to be somewhere, I am, just like that.”
2 likes
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