THE PRESIDENT'S GARDENS

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Muhsin Al-Ramli

Translated from the Arabic by Luke Leafgren

Paperback - B-format - 352pp - £8.99 - 05/04/2018 - 978 0 85705 680 1

On the third day of Ramadan, the village 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 humour make it an enormous pleasure to read
— Robin Yassin-Kassab, Guardian
A story buffeted by the wider tides 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 Gordon, Financial Times
A beautiful novel . . . Consistently compelling . . . In writing about ordinary Iraqis who pay the cost of wars waged by autocratic leaders, Al-Ramli touches on deep and timeless themes
— Alastair Mabbott, Glasgow Herald
Deeply painful and satirical, The President’s Gardens is a contemporary tragedy of epic proportions. No author is better placed than Muhsin Al-Ramli, already a star in the Arabic literary scene, to tell this story. I read it in one sitting
— Hassan Blasim
How do you preserve dignity amidst the relentless carnage and mutilation of modern Iraq? Told with a fresh transparency and tender insight, The President’s Gardens draws on the unfathomable resilience of the Iraqi people, leaving me speechless and humbled
— Paul McAlindin, author of Upbeat: The Story of the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq
A novel filled with details . . . with passion, homeland, revolution, and grief. It represents a landmark in the progression of Iraqi literature
— Miral Al-Tahawi
One of the most important contemporary Iraqi novelists and writers
— El Mundo
A stunning achievement
— Ben East, The National
Masterful
— Malu Halasa, co-author and editor of Syria Speaks