Bernd Brunner

The Book of Pomegranates

(German title: Das Granatapfelbuch)
ca. 101 pages
Bernd Brunner

Bernd Brunner

Bernd Brunner, born in 1964, is a writer who divides his time between Istanbul and Berlin. He has written for Lapham's Quarterly, The Paris Review Daily, Aeon, Quartz, The Public Domain Review, The Times Literary Supplement, Wall Street Journal Speakeasy and others. His books have been translated into 13 languages and reviewed in major publications.

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Arabic world rights (Al-Arabi), Turkey (Kirmizi)

A Cultural History of the Pomegranate – History and Usage of an Extraordinary Fruit

With 18 illustrations and photographs


Next to olives, figs, grapes and dates, the pomegranate belongs to the earliest fruit to be cultivated by humankind. Until today, it is surrounded by mysteries. Was the »forbidden apple« with which Eve tempted Adam actually a pomegranate? Is the pomegranate – botanically speaking – even an »apple«? Is it the universal remedy which many believe it to be?

Most likely, the origin of the pomegranate lies in the area south of the Caspian Sea, and its traditional area of cultivation spans from the Himalayas to the Mediterranean. Its rich associations, especially as a symbol of fertility, run through the cultures of antiquity like a golden thread; later, it was used as an attribute of the Madonna figure and in still lives in Renaissance paintings until it was replaced by citrus fruit, which were much easier to process.

This book examines these shifts in meaning and presents in a compact form the history of the culture and dissemination of one of the most fascinating fruit that, today, is heralded as a »super fruit« and cultivated in many places all over the world. This book presents a search for traces of the pomegranate in Armenia, Iran, Afghanistan, China and Japan, where the pomegranate possesses special cultural significance.


»The structure of the pomegranate is as complicated as it is ambiguous. Brunner looks at the pomegranate from all sides – from botanical, geographical and cultural-historical angles. At the end, the juice is squeezed through the convolutions of the reader’s brain, nourishing with its practical knowledge. The book does not replace the real-life pleasure of the pomegranate, but contains a piece of anthropological history, a beautiful tribute ... A delightful gem of a book.« MDR Kultur

»A neat little book.« Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung

»Pomegranates for intellectuals. Somewhere along the path from ancient history to Instagram foodies, the fertility symbol became a superfood. A delightful cultural history.« Brigitte Woman

»Superb non-fiction books. […] They are archives unto themselves. A repository for dreams, visions, and fears.« Die Zeit

»An elegant cultural history [...] Brunner ably dispatches recent science and takes us on a lively tour of lunar folklore and speculative fiction.« The New Yorker on Mond. Die Geschichte einer Faszination

»We are plunged immediately into a fascinating tour of the moon in ancient cultures. [...] well written, ... full of fascinating bits of information.« The Washington Post on Mond. Die Geschichte einer Faszination

»A slender but fascinating book on the Christmas tree [...] In wry tones, playing with cultural and scientific contexts, he lays out the provenance the festive tree and its first appearances.« The Guardian on Die Erfindung des Weihnachtsbaums