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The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree longlisted for the 2020 International Booker Prize

4/11/2020 3:11 PM
The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree longlisted for the 2020 International Booker Prize

The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree by Iranian author Shokoofeh Azar has been longlisted for the 2020 International Booker Prize.

The 2017 novel was recently translated to English and released by Wild Dingo Press, a small Australian publisher.

This nomination follows short listings for the 2018 Stella Prize, the 2018 University of Queensland Fiction Book Awards, and the 2020 Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature.

The novel is set in Iran in the decade that follows the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

It is told from the perspective of the ghost of Bahar, a 13-year-old girl whose family is compelled to leave their home in the capital, Tehran, for a new life in a small village.

They are soon caught up in the post-revolutionary chaos that sweeps their ancient country and its people.

The critically acclaimed novel is said to juxtapose the beauty of an ancient and vibrant culture with the brutality of an oppressive political regime.

Shokoofeh Azar now resides in Melbourne, but has had a wildly interesting life that has informed her writing and storytelling.

Born in Iran just years before the Islamic revolution, she cultivated an interest in writing and art that was originally sparked by her father, an Iranian intellectual.

She studied literature at high school and university despite revolution making it a hostile time for independent writing.

While working as a journalist for an independent newspaper, Azar was jailed three times. The third time saw her suffer three months in isolation, leading her to flee Iran upon her release.

She arrived at Christmas Island via boat and eventually re-settled in Australia.

The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree is Azar’s first novel to be translated from Farsi to English.

‘Wild Dingo Press is committed to getting the voices of authors from minority communities and backgrounds heard, particularly emerging writers,’ said Cathi Lewis, the publisher from Wild Dingo press.

‘We knew after we read the first chapters it was a prize-winner in the making … the longlist announcement is an absolute win for small, independent Australian presses who are prepared to fund translations and take the risks’ she added.

‘This is … an extraordinary achievement for Shokoofeh Azar, but also a great compliment to Wild Dingo Press as another example of the courage shown by independent Australian publishers willing to take on authors whose work is too often rejected by larger companies,’ said Michael Webster, Chair of the Small Press Network.

You can read our review of The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree here.