The Fig Tree
Original title: La foglia di fico
“La foglia di fico is a book of pleasant reading that tells small, painful, ironic stories within the great and serious problems of our country and our time”. — Domenico Starnone, Corriere della Sera
“La foglia di fico is not a sentimental book, but it is a book that possesses a feeling, from the first page to the last: the feeling for the things in life”. — Annalena Benini, Il Foglio
“With no three-act narrative score, no catchphrases, the author manages to put together not only all his skills (agricultural, narrative) but also almost all the ingredients of a novel: love, childhood, traumas, summers, olfactory memories, wars, family memories, discoveries, identities, lands, territories”. — Silvia Veroli, Il Manifesto
La foglia di fico is a very ambitious, literary and interesting novel, memoir and popular science book.
“Over the years I have begun to think that any path one can take for happiness must necessarily pass through a pine forest. A pine forest to cross and a sea to reach”.
In this book there is the invention of a very happy and light form: a tale in bloom, where every man stands out like a tree, with open arms under the sky. A branching of stories, intertwined like ivy, ancient like wheat, twisted and gnarled and beautiful like olive tree trunks. By learning to read plants, perhaps you can see women and men as they are, in the spontaneous cycle of their nature, contradictory and vital. Enter under the shade of the flowering branches: here you are.
What’s this book about? A man who: the longer he lives the more he forgets; the more he desires, the more he gets down; the more he reads and learns, the more confused and frightened he finds himself: a bit like everyone else. This is why he is looking for something stable, a clearly visible point of orientation. Except that he, unlike many, turns to plants, building a sort of atypical novel, in which each episode is like a journey (in childhood, in time, with women). After all, these magnificent creatures have been here long before us and will be the last to die.
The plants are lighthouses, they contain a thousand essential, clear symbols. They are able to defy adversity and therefore offer us a model of resistance, because with tenacity they show the power of contradictions: the desire to live and love (expressed by the cherry tree) which can cause frustration and insecurity; the strength (of the oak) that can abandon us instantly, throwing us into despair; democracy as a process of adaptation between depth and surface (the olive tree); the need for a rite of passage (wheat), a journey that includes a death to be reborn.
This book is a horoscope, a seismograph, a time machine, as well as a kind of botany of feelings. Furthermore, plants are an exceptional tool for dealing with our mysterious, fun, intricate nature: they resemble us more than we ever thought.
In the world there are plant experts and there are writers: then there is Antonio Pascale, a passionate connoisseur of nature, one of the most appreciated storytellers of his generation. He knows how to question trees like no one else, listening to their history and intrinsic beauty.
By matching characters to plants, interlinking short stories webbed together by underlying threads, and discussing human nature via botanical metaphors, this book does something fresh that, in a ‘mostly’ fictional form, taps into our environmental concerns and renewed interest for the plant universe.
It is an extremely dense, stimulating and original read, as it weaves together memoir, fictional short stories and scientific divulgation. Moreover, I think the author succeeded in reflecting, in a deep and interesting way, on many aspects of human nature through botanical metaphor. From the Cherry tree to the Oak, from the Fig tree to the Holm Oak, from the Citrus tree to the Lime tree, from the Pine tree to the wheat, Antonio Pascale tells ten fictional stories based on the specific characteristics of ten different plants, reflecting on human nature and our behavior. A perfectly successful mix of autobiographical fiction and scientific divulgation but also an extremely fluent and pleasant book to read.
- Over 10,000 copies sold
- English sample available
- Shortlisted for the Premio Campiello