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Booker International Shortlist 2020: The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree

Greengage

Shortlist book 2 – Enlightening but does that make it a winner?

Bookworm’s Thoughts: Having read One Hundred Years of Solitude recently I can definitely see where this book draws its inspiration. There are so many similarities between the two stories not least of which is the story of a place (in this case Razan) told through the history of a family with magical/mystical powers who happen to be living through social unrest and revolution. That said this book tells the story in its own way and is an engaging exploration of the history of Iran from the 1980s written with a certain poetic elegance.

Why it could win: This is a great example of magical realism told by a unique narrator that provides the reader with a history of Iran and the revolutions there without being too bloodthirsty. It also ends on a hopeful note.

Why it might not win: I hated the incident with the mermaid and felt it was un-necessary to the story. RachelO and Tracy are right certain sections don’t work as well as other and there is a certain slowing down of pace at points in the story.

Tracy’s Thoughts: An author I’d definitely read again.

Why it could win: An engaging, magical and timeless story, with an unreliable but endearing narrator.

Why it might not win: There were times when the storyline was a bit disconnected.

RachelO’s Thoughts: I was surprised but pleased that this made the shortlist. The story of a family, their village and Iran, told through magical realism. Why it could win: An epic storyline and interesting voice, interwoven with myths and history. I greatly enjoyed spending time with the family and their ghosts, and learnt so much about post-revolutionary Iran.

Why it might not win: It felt much longer than its 270 pages, and on occasions was a little rambling. I did think there were more effective novels on the list – but I’m really pleased it’s getting a wider readership.

Have you read this one? What do you think it’s chances of winning are? Let us know.

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