The President's Gardens
by Muhsin Al-Ramli
Pub Date 01 May 2018
"A profoundly moving investigation of love, death, and injustice." --The Guardian
"A standard in contemporary Middle Eastern literature." --Booklist
"A stunning achievement." --The National
On the third day of Ramadan, a small village in Iraq wakes to find the severed heads of nine of its sons stacked in banana crates by the bus stop. One of them belonged to one of the most wanted men in Iraq, known to his friends as Ibrahim the Fated. How did this good and humble man earn the enmity of so many? What did he do to deserve such a death?
The answer lies in his lifelong friendship with Abdullah Kafka and Tariq the Befuddled, who each have their own remarkable stories to tell. It lies on the scarred, irradiated battlefields of the Gulf War and in the ashes of a revolution strangled in its cradle. It lies in the steadfast love of his wife and the festering scorn of his daughter.
And, above all, it lies behind the locked gates of the President's gardens, buried alongside the countless victims of a pitiless reign of terror.
"Though firmly rooted in its context, The President's Gardens' concerns are universal. It is a profoundly moving investigation of love, death and injustice, and an affirmation of the importance of dignity, friendship and meaning amid oppression. The novel is undoubtedly a tragedy, but its light touch and persistent humor make it an enormous pleasure to read."
--- Robin Yassin Kassab, Guardian
"A story buffeted by the wider ties of history: the bloody churn of dictatorship, invasion, and occupation . . . The President's Gardens evokes the fantastical, small-town feel of One Hundred Years of Solitude . . . Shocks and enchants."
--- Tom Graham, Financial Times
"This compelling novel's many strands and contradictions fill the reader with a range of intense and complex emotions: anger at the war, sorrow for the people of Iraq; deep humility in the face of such suffering and endurance. Like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, with whom he is often compared, Al-Ramli has created a specific village that manages to be universal and a story that is rooted in history while reaching forward into the present day."
--- Kathy Watson, The Tablet
"Al-Ramli is an author who can sum up feelings in just a few words. His characters you may only meet for a moment but they will stay with you forever. He is an important and insightful storyteller and a writer whose work adds a unique dimension to the many stories that make up our literary world."
--- Arab News
"A novel filled with details . . . with passion, homeland, revolution, and grief. It represents a landmark in the progression of Iraqi literature."
--- Miral Al-Tahawy, author of Brooklyn Heights
--- Paul MacAlindin, author of Upbeat: The Story of the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq
Longlisted for the IFAP, known as the "Arabic Booker"Ties in with an increased focus on Iraq, as well as the rest of the Arab world, in international mediaDramatizes from an Iraqi perspective the events of the first and second Gulf Wars, and reflecting on the post-9/11 invasion of IraqThe author is working on a sequel that will deal with the post-invasion years, the rise of ISIS, and the ensuing civil war in Iraq