Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pomegranate Roads

I'm a huge fan of pomegranates (a passion that predates the whole Pom hoopla) and I often run Amazon searches just to see what will come up. While running one of these searches, I came up with Pomegranate Roads, A Soviet Botanist's Exile from Eden, by Gregory M. Levin. Levin is a punicologist, or pomegranate specialist, who spent over 40 years at Garrigala, the Soviet botany research station in Turkmenistan. During his time there, he traveled widely and collected over a thousand different pomegranate varieties. Sadly, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, Levin was forced to emmigrate, leaving his pomegranate collection to fate.

This book chronicles Levin's research, including many expeditions in search for more plants. Some portions of the book read like an adventure tale, with him surviving car wrecks and treacherous journeys. Other portions, where he focuses on people he worked with over the years, can be a little tedious, although it is sweet that he is paying homage to his colleagues. And as always, I wanted to know more about the mythology behind the pomegranate (although I was happy to read that both Levin and publisher Barbara Baer share my thoughts that the pomegranate was the "apple" that tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden).

This is, overall, a fast and enjoyable read. If nothing else, it made me want to live in California so I could have my own pomegranate tree, something that won't happen here in Boston.

To hear an interview with publisher Barbara Baer, visit the Pomegranate Roads website.

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