Under the Orange Tree

Three Stories of Misfortune and the Triumph of the Human Spirit

by Nimfa Hakani

Under the Orange Tree
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Under the Orange Tree

Three Stories of Misfortune and the Triumph of the Human Spirit

by Nimfa Hakani

Published Apr 26, 2016
362 Pages
Genre: FICTION / Short Stories (single author)



 

Book Details

Beating the Odds of Life!

"Under the Orange Tree " is a wonderful collection of three short stories. A crafted quality piece of writing, the prose is fluid with details that capture the attention of the reader. Right from the start, the plot is engaging and intriguing. Each story unfolds carefully, and to move the plot along, the used dialogue is insightful and very perceptive. The author uses a unique voice that allows the reader to interact and relate with the characters. The tone of the stories fluctuates from the depth of the human’s spirit to the aspiration and the bliss of life. The protagonists are lifelike, and it feels like you have known them while leaving each story. Intense, provocative, humane, spirited, and real, "Under the Orange Tree", is an intriguing and invigorating work of literature with the nuances of a thriller. " ...................................................................................................................................... ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 1st story—”Under the Orange Tree": The tragic lives of two women, mother and daughter-in-law, although begin more or less the same, unfold in different and unexpected ways after their husbands migrate to America. What transpires next crushes the world of the younger woman, and badly shakes the ground under the feet of the older one, and life, as they have known it, takes a drastic turn. Disgrace and humiliation are thrown harshly at both women’s feet. The mother-in-law faces a difficult moral dilemma. The complexity of the circumstances brings her to a critical point. Her mind is foggy, doubtful. Her emotions are controversial. She has to make a difficult decision. Both women endure more than they had bargained for in their life, to come in the end, to a silent, strong bond of a lifetime. The aftermath is very much unexpected. ............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 2nd story—"Rina": The story elaborates the perturbing life of a young woman that was forced as a girl into womanhood before the prime of her life. She becomes the village’s widow with no children at a very young age. Eventually, her reality comes at odds with the modest life of her fellow villagers. As these two realities clash silently, the villagers get enveloped in an unexpected saga that rattles their quiet lives, and brings them to face a malady unknown before. Being in the center of the whole controversy, Rina leaves behind traces of her existence for years to come. .................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 3rd story—"The Awakening": The somewhat constrained cohabitation of two unlikely people, an odd man, quite different from others, and an unfortunate woman, brings about human tragedy and triumph. The main protagonist, is someone for whom his fellow countryman do not have much consideration—he is simply the retard in their eyes—but he, in his own insensible way, without being aware of their ill expressed sentiments, proves them wrong all the way to the last page of the story. Real life takes over in this tale of loss, unconscious self-discovery, and awakening in higher dimensions of human being’s ingenuity. ............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... Kirkus review: https://www.instagram.com/https://www.kirkusreviews.com/%E2%80%A6/nimfa%E2%80%A6/under-orange-tree-rr/ -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------KIRKUS REVIEW Albanian-American author Hakani presents a trio of heartfelt, interconnected tales about Albanian women. The author’s first published book in English evocatively reinterprets the sentimental memories of an old family acquaintance and gifted storyteller. Among the women in her family, Hakani says, this elderly woman represented “the times we did not have a chance to live through, the times we looked back at in awe, admiration, and wonder.” ..................................................................The title novella, the most impressive of the group, uses rich, atmospheric detail to recount the lives of an Albanian mother and daughter-in-law, who deal with both the hardships and pleasures of an orthodox, pastoral life. In it, Mariana, a strikingly beautiful woman in the village of Kalasa, lives in an orange grove that she adores. But she finds her life becoming increasingly complicated when her son immigrates alone to America, leaving his own wife, Ana, behind to live with Mariana. After Ana is raped and bears the rapist’s child, the textured, nuanced story becomes a whirlwind of betrayal, misguided passion, obsession, and moral quandary. ...................................................................“Rina” tells of a young widow-turned-seductress who has alluring powers over the village men and of the tragedy and mystery of her death. ...................................................................The final story, “The Awakening,” follows an unlikely friendship between an orphaned, mentally retarded man and a local village woman, for whom he provides farming and caregiving help. Together, they transcend the cruelty of societal limitations to become lovers and life partners, much to the shock and chagrin of the critical villagers. ........................................................................................................................................................................................................Collectively, Hakani’s profound stories deliver an uplifting, cohesive reading experience filled with intrigue and melodrama, drawing on themes of feminine empowerment and resilience. A moving, resonant collection of stories that honors its characters’ struggles and passions.

 

Book Excerpt

Fragments from the book: ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... — "Under the Orange Tree"— “Her fingers squeezed Mariána’s shoulder instinctively. In response, she felt Mariána’s hand moving slowly over hers. The touch of their hands sent a silent, compassionate message to both mother and daughter-in-law. A sense of calmness overcame both of them, and they felt at peace at last with each other(one another). The unspoken secrets they shared, the dreadful, untold truth that had overshadowed their life no longer stood between them. The unbreakable wall had been lifted. Their cohabitation had been challenged severely but had survived the test. Their human boundaries had been crossed, and they had come out of the shadows of their realities’ obscurity, to relive their simple lives all over again modestly and humbly. No words were exchanged. No explanations were necessary. It was the silent vocalization of their souls taking place in those moments in the simple ritual of bathing one’s body that helped the purification of the soul of the other—liberating their spirits from what had so heavily burdened their coexistence for so long.......................................................................................................................... ............................................................................................................................................................. —"Rina"— “Some of them even shed a tear or two for the woman who had made their life a twisted inferno in the past years, but at the end — had committed self-immolation. The prayer had helped to uplift their souls. In a matter of minutes, she was given confidential impunity in a silent agreement. Death has always had that overpowering effect on people. It makes them vulnerable. It makes them accept things they would never have before; it makes them forgive the dead for the dreadful vices carried out while alive.” ........................................................................................................................ ................................................................................................................................................................ —"The Awakening"— “He felt lost. It was much better when she did not talk and stood still at the windowsill. Now, everything was so different and strange. It was alien and unfamiliar! Entirely new turf to him! A turf he had never walked on before; a path so unknown, it began to irritate him to destruction. Moreover, she was affectionate to him! He was not comfortable with that feeling. It did not fit in his set-forth-of-rules world. No one, ever in his life, had been considerate to him. He was quite reluctant to everything unrecognizable that was out of his own periphery of comfort. And, it was swarming all around him, and sneaking up on him, entering his quiet world from everywhere.”—

 

About the Author

Nimfa Hakani

The author, Nimfa Hakani, an Albanian-American, migrated in US twenty-one years ago, in the state of New York, and after pursuing her master degree in education with Mercy College, she became a teacher of Mathematics and taught in the Public School System of NYC. She writes in both Albanian and English. Her poetry, short stories, essays, and several articles on social Albanian issues have been published in both languages in printed and online Albanian newspaper editions. The short story, The Blood Line—The Story of a Prince is published in various online newspapers. Her poems, "I Refuse", "Simply Woman", can be found at allpoetry.com .............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. Nimfa is the author of three books published in Albanian language, "Pacientja 101"—The Patient 101, a collection of short stories, "Luani i Fjetur"—The Sleeping Lion, a collection of tales and fables, and "Gjetoja dhe Orët"—Jeto and the Nixies, a children’s book based on The Albanian Epic of Heroes. ............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... "Under the Orange Tree" is her first published book in English. The central themes in the short stories of this collection are based in real life stories. The author is deeply drawn to themes of humanity’s transcendence in the face of life’s greatest challenges. The life of the protagonists of each story had provoked the author’s curiosity since the first time she heard about the struggles of four women and one man she never met. Under the spell of that fascination, she wrote, "Under The Orange Tree", "Rina", and "The Awakening ", describing the life of these ordinary people, with an extraordinary life, in an intriguing, interesting way.