The Island of Missing Trees (Elif Shafak)

I wish I could have told him that loneliness is a human invention. Trees are never lonely. Humans think they know with certainty where there being ends and someone else’s starts. With there roots tangled and caught up underground, linked to fungi and bacteria, trees harbour no such illusions. For us, everything is interconnected.

7 thoughts on “The Island of Missing Trees (Elif Shafak)

  1. shinichi Post author

    The Island of Missing Trees

    by Elif Shafak

    A rich, magical new book on belonging and identity, love and trauma, nature and renewal, from the Booker shortlisted author of 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World.

    Two teenagers, a Greek Cypriot and a Turkish Cypriot, meet at a taverna on the island they both call home. In the taverna, hidden beneath garlands of garlic, chili peppers and creeping honeysuckle, Kostas and Defne grow in their forbidden love for each other. A fig tree stretches through a cavity in the roof, and this tree bears witness to their hushed, happy meetings and eventually, to their silent, surreptitious departures. The tree is there when war breaks out, when the capital is reduced to ashes and rubble, and when the teenagers vanish. Decades later, Kostas returns. He is a botanist looking for native species, but really, he’s searching for lost love.

    Years later, a Ficus carica grows in the back garden of a house in London where Ada Kazantzakis lives. This tree is her only connection to an island she has never visited – her only connection to her family’s troubled history and her complex identity as she seeks to untangle years of secrets to find her place in the world.

  2. shinichi Post author

    Elif Shafak


    Elif Shafak FRSL (born 25 October 1971) is a Turkish-British novelist, essayist, public speaker, political scientist and activist.

    Shafak writes in Turkish and English, and has published 19 works. She is best known for her novels, which include The Bastard of Istanbul, The Forty Rules of Love, Three Daughters of Eve and 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World. Her books have been translated into 55 languages and been nominated for several literary awards. Described by the Financial Times as “Turkey’s leading female novelist”, several of her works have been bestsellers in Turkey and internationally.

    Her works have prominently featured the city of Istanbul, and dealt with themes of Eastern and Western culture, roles of women in society, and human rights issues. Certain politically challenging topics addressed in her novels, such as child abuse and the Armenian genocide, have led to legal action from authorities in Turkey that prompted her to emigrate to the United Kingdom.

    Shafak has a PhD in political science. An essayist and contributor to several media outlets, Shafak has advocated for women’s rights, minority rights, and freedom of speech.


    Shafak was born in Strasbourg, France, to Nuri Bilgin, a philosopher, and Şafak Atayman, who later became a diplomat. After her parents separated, Shafak returned to Ankara, Turkey, where she was raised by her mother and maternal grandmother. She says that growing up in a dysfunctional family was difficult, but that growing up in a non-patriarchal environment had a beneficial impact on her. Having grown up without her father, she met her half-brothers for the first time when she was in her mid-twenties.

    Shafak added her mother’s first name, Turkish for “dawn”, to her own when constructing her pen name at the age of eighteen. Shafak spent her teenage years in Madrid, Jordan and Germany.

    Shafak studied an undergraduate degree in international relations at Middle East Technical University, and earned a Master’s studies in women’s studies. She holds a Ph.D. in political science. She has taught at universities in Turkey. Later emigrating to the United States, she was a fellow at Mount Holyoke College, a visiting professor at the University of Michigan, and was a tenured professor at the University of Arizona in Near Eastern studies.

    In the UK, she held the Weidenfeld Visiting Professorship in Comparative European Literature at St Anne’s College, University of Oxford, for the 2017–2018 academic year, where she is an honorary fellow.


    Shafak has published nineteen books, both fiction and nonfiction.

    Shafak’s first novel, Pinhan, was awarded the Rumi Prize in 1998, a Turkish literary prize.

    Shafak’s 1999 novel Mahrem (The Gaze) was awarded “Best Novel” by the Turkish Authors’ Association in 2000.

    Her next novel, Bit Palas (The Flea Palace, 2002), was shortlisted for Independent Best Foreign Fiction in 2005.

    Shafak released her first novel in English, The Saint of Incipient Insanities, in 2004.

    Her second novel in English, The Bastard of Istanbul, was long-listed for the Orange Prize. It addresses the Armenian genocide, which is denied by the Turkish government. Shafak was prosecuted in July 2006 on charges of “insulting Turkishness” (Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code) for discussing the genocide in the novel. Had she been convicted, she would have faced a maximum prison sentence of three years. The Guardian commented that The Bastard of Istanbul may be the first Turkish novel to address the genocide. She was acquitted of these charges in September 2006 at the prosecutor’s request.

    Shafak’s novel The Forty Rules of Love (Aşk in Turkish) became a bestseller in Turkey upon its release; it sold more than 200,000 copies by 2009, surpassing a previous record of 120,000 copies set by Orhan Pamuk’s The New Life. In France, it was awarded a Prix ALEF* – Mention Spéciale Littérature Etrangère. It was also nominated for the 2012 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. In 2019, it was listed by the BBC as one of the 100 “most inspiring” novels and one of the “100 novels that shaped our world”.

    Her 2012 novel Honour, which focuses on an honour killing, was nominated for the 2012 Man Asian Literary Prize and 2013 Women’s Prize for Fiction followed by The Architect’s Apprentice, a historical fiction novel about a fictional apprentice to Mimar Sinan, in 2014.

    Her novel Three Daughters of Eve (2017), set in Istanbul and Oxford from the 1980s to the present day was chosen by London Mayor Sadiq Khan as his favorite book of the year. American writer Siri Hustvedt also praised the book. The book explores themes of secular versus orthodox religious practice, conservative versus liberal politics and modern Turkish attitudes towards these .

    Following Margaret Atwood, David Mitchell and Sjon, Shafak was selected as the 2017 writer for the Future Library project. Her work The Last Taboo is the third part of a collection of 100 literary works that will not be published until 2114.

    Shafak’s 2019 novel 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World, revolving around the life of an Istanbul sex worker, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. In 2019, Shafak was investigated by Turkish prosecutors for addressing child abuse and sexual violence in her fiction writing.

    Shafak released her twelfth novel The Island of Missing Trees in 2021.




    エリフ・シャファク(英: Elif Shafak, 土: Elif Şafak, 1971年10月25日 – )は、トルコ系イギリス人の作家・活動家・政治学者。トルコで最も読まれている女性作家とされる。著書に小説『レイラの最後の10分38秒(英語版)』など。









  3. shinichi Post author

    Love is the bold affirmation of hope. You don’t embrace hope when death and destruction are in command. You don’t put on your best dress and tuck a flower in your hair when you are surrounded by ruins and shards. You don’t lose your heart at a time when hearts are supposed to remain sealed, especially for those who are not of your religion, not of your language, not of your blood. You don’t fall in love in Cyprus in the summer of 1974. Not here, not now. And yet there they were, the two of them.

  4. shinichi Post author

    The world is unfair, said Meryem. “If a stone falls on an egg, it is bad for the egg; if an egg falls on a stone, it is still bad for the egg.

  5. shinichi Post author

    But if you are going to claim, as humans do, to be superior to all life forms, past and present, then you must gain an understanding of the oldest living organisms on earth who were here long before you arrived and will still be here after you have gone.

  6. shinichi Post author

    People assume it’s a matter of personality, the difference between optimists and pessimists. But I believe it all comes down to an inability to forget. The greater your powers of retention, the slimmer your chances at optimism.

  7. shinichi Post author

    Les beaux jours d’Elif Shafak


    Écrivaine turque reconnue internationalement, autrice de romans aux narrations foisonnantes qui empruntent aussi bien aux récits orientaux qu’occidentaux, Elif Shafak vient à la rencontre du public au cours d’un grand entretien où il est question de son œuvre et de son impressionnant parcours.

    On se souvient de « La Bâtarde d’Istanbul », paru en 2006 en Turquie, qui traitait du génocide arménien à travers des regards féminins, immense succès dans le monde entier qui lui a valu d’être poursuivie par l’État turc. Imprégnée par les mysticismes et particulièrement le soufisme, mais fustigeant toute forme de bigoterie, sa littérature s’intéresse à la mémoire et à sa transmission, aux questions de genre, d’appartenance et d’exil.

    Son dernier roman, « L’Île aux arbres disparus », se déroule à Chypre, à l’époque de la partition de l’île. Dans ce récit qui questionne le déracinement et les amours interdites, elle fait entendre le cri silencieux de la nature. L’écologie et le féminisme sont des thèmes chers à Elif Shafak, ce que vient rappeler Jeanne Burgart Goutal, professeure de philosophie à Marseille et écoféministe, qui tisse un lien entre la destruction de l’environnement et les violences faites aux femmes.

    Écrivant aussi bien en turc qu’en anglais, elle enseigne à l’université aux États-Unis et au Royaume-Uni, travaille pour des journaux internationaux, collabore à l’écriture de séries. Avec la présence sur scène de son éditeur français, Patrice Hoffmann, et le témoignage de sa traductrice Dominique Goy-Blanquet, il est question de l’architecture finement élaborée de ses récits, de la musicalité de sa langue que fait entendre la comédienne Constance Dollé. Car la musique compte beaucoup pour Elif Shafak. Grande mélomane, elle est capable de faire le grand écart entre musique soufie et heavy metal, et a même écrit pour des musiciens rock !

    Une rencontre passionnante avec une grande voix littéraire d’aujourd’hui, aux convictions marquées et à la trajectoire exceptionnelle.


    La surprise permanente (01:08:00)


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