PANEL 11: Migrant Botanies

With Djaimilia Pereira de Almeida and Elif Shafak

Host: Mirna Queiroz is a journalist, editor and curator; she is the founder and executive editor of Pessoa magazine


In her short and thorough novel A Visão das Plantas [The Vision of Plants], one of the 2020 Oceanos Prize winners, Djaimilia Pereira de Almeida, rewrites Portuguese Captain Celestino’s later years. The character was a cruel pirate and slave dealer. Upon retiring, he returned to his hometown to live alone in the family’s home and started tending the abandoned garden. Through the tension between his cruelty and his delicate manners towards plants, the story reviews ambivalent human actions. And in The Island of Missing Trees, novelist Elif Shafak tells the story of the forbidden love between Kostas and Defne Kazantzakis, a Greek Christian and a Turkish Muslim, and the conflicts that arise. One of the chapters is narrated from a fig tree’s perspective, which exposes and criticizes colonial violence and prejudices. In both novels, by Angolan Almeida and by Turkish-British Shafak, the conflicts and traumas that colonialism entails are at stake, with the vegetal element as one of its narrative motivations: in the first, a Portuguese garden; in the second, a Cypriot origin fig tree.

Date and time:

12/02/2021 6pm