A review by sixminutesforme
The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree, by Shokoofeh Azar

4.0

This was put on my radar by Europa Editions who let me know they were bringing this Stella shortlisted title to the US market (many thanks to them for sending me a copy)!

Azar moved to Australia in 2011 as a political refugee, and there are some really interesting autobiographical elements to this narrative (see this interview for more from the author directly: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5f0-gywi1g&t=973s)

This is a family narrative, told in a story-within-a-story structure. We follow a young female narrator (don't read the blurb if you don't want spoilers about what makes her so unique) and she takes you through the connections with death that she and her family encounter in the decade following the 1979 Islamic Revolution. It is a narrative rich in folklore and storytelling, and one thing I really enjoyed was how much the narrative style shifted as we moved between storytellers. One that particularly stood out was a ghost that narrated a multi-page stream of consciousness sentence, at the conclusion of which a listener asked "I'm sorry, is this how people tell stories" to which he replied "Yes, this is one way people do it." (p165)

I also think it is a testament to the beauty conveyed in the content and writing style of Azar that reflections of death could be so poignant and perfectly articulated: "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 me the most important advantage of death is knowing something when I want to know it." (p57)

If you enjoy this you may also want to read [b:Disoriental|40170500|Disoriental|NĂ©gar Djavadi|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1526684207l/40170500._SY75_.jpg|52355637]

More thoughts here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7U3ZStJCUAY