> Skip to content
  • Published: 3 August 2021
  • ISBN: 9780241435007
  • Imprint: Viking
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $37.00

The Island of Missing Trees

The Top 10 Sunday Times Bestseller




An unforgettable new novel 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. The taverna is the only place that Kostas and Defne can meet in secret, hidden beneath the blackened beams from which hang garlands of garlic and chilli peppers, creeping honeysuckle, and in the centre, growing through a cavity in the roof, a fig tree. The fig tree witnesses their hushed, happy meetings; their silent, surreptitious departures. The fig tree is there, too, when war breaks out, when the capital is reduced to ashes and rubble, when the teenagers vanish. Decades later, Kostas returns - a botanist, looking for native species - looking, really, for Defne. The two lovers return to the taverna to take a clipping from the fig tree and smuggle it into their suitcase, bound for London. Years later, the fig tree in the garden is their daughter Ada's only knowledge of a home she has never visited, as she seeks to untangle years of secrets and silence, and find her place in the world.

The Island of Missing Trees is a rich, magical tale of belonging and identity, memory and trauma, nature and renewal, from the Booker-shortlisted author of 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World.

  • Published: 3 August 2021
  • ISBN: 9780241435007
  • Imprint: Viking
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $37.00

Also by Elif Shafak

See all

Praise for The Island of Missing Trees

[Elif Shafak] joins writers such as Hanif Kureishi, Zadie Smith, Monica Ali, Aamer Hussein, Andrea Levy, Hanan al-Shakyh and Leila Aboulela, who offer us fictional glimpses of London's Others

The Independent

One of the best writers in the world today

Hanif Kureishi

An intimate, affecting memoir . . . Her passion for literature is contagious

Colleen Mondor on Black Milk

A wise novel of love and grief, roots and branches, displacement and home, faith and belief. The Island of Missing Trees is balm for our bruised times

David Mitchell, author of Utopia Avenue

The Island of Missing Trees, for all its uses of enchantment, is a complex and powerful work in which the harrowing material settles on the reader delicately

FT

The Island of Missing Trees is a magical masterpiece . . . Elif Shafak has done it again with this brilliant novel of the secrets of hearts, the history of Cyprus and the beauty of memory. Truly full of miracles.

Kate Williams

Poignant . . . [Shafak] knows exactly when to dangle unanswered questions, when to drench our senses, when to offer meaningful musings, elegant metaphors and tugs at the heartstrings

Sunday Times

Compassionate and enchanting, it's a transporting tale of roots, renewal and talking trees

Mail on Sunday, Best New Fiction

Enchanting . . . Shafak's writing is poised and expressive, remarkable for its charm and lyricism . . . The novel is a tapestry of heavy emotions, but it's one that's spun with brightness

Sunday Telegraph, Novel of the Week

The Cyprus setting is stunningly described in this spellbinding story about identity, love and loss

Good Housekeeping, 'this month's 10 books to read right now' (September)

The Island of Missing Trees is a strong and enthralling work: its world of superstition, natural beauty and harsh tribal loyalties becomes your world . . . for all its uses of enchantment, it is a complex and powerful work in which the harrowing material settles on the reader delicately

FT

A wonderful rebuke to anthropocentric storytelling . . . Elif's extraordinary new novel about grief, love and memory

Literary Review

The Cyprus setting is stunningly described in this spellbinding story about identity, love and loss

Good Houskeeping, best books to read this month

This is a sweeping, romantic tale about love and loss that's so evocative you can smell honeysuckle and figs wafting from the pages

Red, best books to read this autumn

The wounds inflicted and the search for healing across three generations is explored in the tales of its unforgettable characters . . . beyond the narrative, the author's longing to dissolve barriers between people and the natural world is evident. A beautiful read

Woman & Home, September Book Club Pick

If Ms Shafak's subjects are sombre, her magical-realist style is anything but . . . Shafak does not shrink from the reality of violence, but she salvages tenderness - even joy - form the wreckage of 20th century history

Economist

The Island of Missing Trees asks us important questions about losing home, about coping and secrets . . . this is a beautiful novel . . . made ferocious by its uncompromising empathy

Guardian, Book of the Day

Booker-shortlisted Shafak (10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World) amazes with this resonant story of the generational trauma of the Cypriot Civil War

Publishers Weekly

A magical story about nature, humanity and love . . . a beautiful contemplation of some of life's biggest questions about identity, history and meaning

Time, Anticipated Book for Fall 2021

Related titles