Monday 15 May 2023

Şafak, Elif "The Island of Missing Trees"

Şafak, Elif "The Island of Missing Trees" - 2021

I have read several books by Elif Şafak. They all seem to be different but they are all fantastic.

In this one, we learn about Cyprus, about the people on this divided island. As an example we have Greek Kostas and Turkish Defne. They fall in love but - as usual in such cases - their love is forbidden.

But we don't just learn about the people and the circumstances that they have to live in, we also get told by a tree, a fig tree, how trees work, how they grow, how they communicate. They have a lot to tell. Fascinating. This part of the story reminded me a little of Elif Şafak's compatriot and my favourite book by Orhan Pamuk who is one of my favourite authors: My Name is Red. He also lets non-humans tell part of the story.

In any case, this is a fantastic story, very original, beautiful and heartbreaking. In the end we know that the island is not only missing its trees.

From the back cover:

"In 1974 , two teenagers, from opposite sides of a divided Cyprus, meet at a tavern in the city they both call home, Nicosia. The tavern is the only place that Kostas, who is Greek, and Defne, who is Turkish, can meet in secret, hidden beneath the leaves of a fig-tree growing through the roof of the tavern. This tree will witness their hushed, happy meetings, and will be there when the war breaks out and the teenagers vanish.

Decades later in north London, sixteen-year-old Ada has never visited the island where her parents were born. She seeks to untangle years of her family’s silence, but the only connection she has to the land of her ancestors is a fig tree growing in the back garden of their home…


  1. I picked this up last year I think. It definitely sounded interesting/different, plus it'll add to my fictional 'world tour' once I get around to reading it!

    1. Definitely, Kitten. I had already read another good book that takes place in Cyprus, The Sunrise by Victoria Hislop.
      Both of them would be great books to add to your fictional world tour.

  2. Thanks, Anshika. I have been blogging since 2010 and will certainly do more.

  3. I have this on my reading list. It seems to draw opposite reviews though. Some good, some not so good. I will read it anyway to see for myself. You seem to have liked it, so I probably do as well. Lisbeth

    1. I think that depends what people's view on the situation is, Lisbeth. I doubt people dislike it for the writing itself, more for the content. I think you will like it.