Elif Shafak

Cindy Seip

British Turkish writer Elif Shafak has published 19 books, writing in both Turkish and English. 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, RSL Ondaatje Prize, and chosen as Blackwell’s Book of the Year; The Forty Rules of Love was selected by the BBC for a place on its “100 Novels that Shaped Our World” canon. In The Island of Missing Trees: A Novel (Bloomsbury Publishing) two teenagers, a Greek Cypriot and a Turkish Cypriot, meet at a local taverna. It’s there, beneath garlands of garlic, chili peppers, and creeping honeysuckle, that Kostas and Defne cultivate their forbidden love with a fig tree bearing witness. The tree is there when war breaks out and the capital is reduced to ashes and rubble, and when the teenagers vanish. Decades later, Kostas returns, a botanist looking for native species and his lost love. Years later, a Ficus carica, or fig tree, grows in the back garden of a house in London where Ada Kazantzakis lives. It’s her only connection to an island she has never visited – and her only connection to her family’s history as she seeks to untangle years of secrets. David Mitchell, author of Utopia Avenue, called it a “wise novel of love and grief, roots and branches, displacement and home, faith and belief. Balm for our bruised times.”