So I have been a fan of Elif Şafak for a long time, before her Doğan Kitap Publishing times. Back in Metis times I would say. Back then I have read all of her books but for the last decade I was not really following her thoroughly. Meanwhile she left Turkey and moved to England which I did not know. I even met her in one of her autograph sessions back in 2009.
This book was a birthday gift and I had no idea what it was about, then couple of pages and boom. She does it all the time, touching the untouchables, taboos. This time it is the Cyprus issue… Her novels involved before the Armenian Genocide/Deportation, extremes in a society etc.
I guess this book has not been translated to Turkish yet, I received it in English and read in this language that is why I write this review also in English. What caught my attention first was the daughter “Ada“. I know that Cypriots love this name and name their children after the Turkish word for “island” very often. How do I know it? Because I have a close Cypriot friend called Deniz :) Ada in the book has a Greek father therefore the surname is Kazantzakis (ooops, Zorba the Greek?) and a Turkish mother called Defne. Both Cypriots, uuuh a forbidden love? So the topic is very catchy. On top of that you also read the story from the perspective of a “fig tree”, which later on surprises you with the mythological Daphne. I like such challenging love stories that is why I also liked this story, there was also another love story in the book which made me think like Elif Şafak became kind of a Netflix. This other love story was again between a Turk and a Greek but this time a gay love. So double the forbidden! I also found it a bit cliché that an unknown pregnancy had to happen ( just like in Hatırla Sevgili, the male part is not aware of what happened).
I did not really know much about the civil war on Cyprus in 70s so it gave me a glimpse of it. Or that many babies had to die because of malaria… All the mass graves all around the island, all the DNA tests going on…
Took my Attention
…and also a certain confused couple, wandering around aimlessly in the Garden of Eden, a glazed look in their eyes. Make no mistake: that was no apple. It is high time someone corrected this gross misunderstanding. Adam and Eve yielded to the allure of a fig, the fruit of temptation, desire and passion, not some crunchy apple. p:31
Despite all this, it would take me seven years to be able to yield a fruit again. Because that is what migrations and relocations do to us: when you leave your home for unknown shores, you don’t simply carry on as before; a part of you dies inside so that another part can start all over again. p:55
Our work is about grief – and memory. And women are better than men at both… ….But, on average, men who lose a spouse remarry way faster than women in the same position. Women mourn, men replace. p:222
I think the Hittites brought you to this island sometime around the late Bronze Age and they forgot to take you back. When I found you, you were already thousands of years old. And you are full of conflicts my love, like anyone who has lived that long. One minute you are so gentle and patient and calm, I want to cry. The next minute you are out risking your life, getting beaten by mafia gangs. p: 255
Then again, if it’s love you’re after, or love you have lost, come to the fig, always the fig. p:330