Want to read a magical story about an amazing family set alongside a gripping political commentary? The enlightenment of the greengage tree by my good friend Shokoofeh Azar, which will be launched this week in Australia, does just that.
Living a large part of her life in Iran means most of Shokoofeh’s writing has been published in Farsi. This is her first novel to be written and translated into English with Western readers in mind. It is an opportunity for us to experience the art of Persian story-telling in the style of magical realism at its best. Alice Pung wrote in an early review: ‘It is incredible. I have never heard such a voice before… Azar writes about Iranian history with the lightness of a feather’s touch. Transcendental, brilliant and beautiful.’
Shokoofeh came to Australia in 2010 as a political refugee by boat. Sadly sometimes Australians find this the most interesting thing about her. On a blog by Rashida Murphy, another novelist, Shokoofeh said: ‘Surviving a boat journey does not define a person for life. How I got here is not what I’m about. I have stories I want to tell. I paint. I’m a mother.’
Shokoofeh’s book is published by the small independent publisher Wild Dingo and is being launched by Professor Baden Offord, the Director of the Centre for Human Rights Education on Friday 18 August at the Centre for Stories.
This is a book that represents the rich literary tradition of Iran. I loved it.