A stunning read . . . So atmospheric, superb storytelling . . . I absolutely was taken into another world.
I took so much pleasure reading a book called The President's Gardens by Muhsin Al-Ramli. It's got that kind of magical feel that something like One Hundred Years of Solitude has, but it's about Iraq . . . And it is epic, it's absolutely epic . . . It's beautifully written . . . It's one of those novels that achieves something which is quite rare. It's absolutely specific in its context - Iraq, the Iraq conflict, the causes and consequences of it - but it's themes are universal: love, death, injustice, the importance of dignity; how do you find friendship and meaning amid oppression? It's a wonderful book.
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.
One of the most important contemporary Iraqi novelists and writers.
A novel filled with details . . . with passion, homeland, revolution, and grief. It represents a landmark in the progression of Iraqi literature.
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.
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.
A stunning achievement.
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.
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.
A tour de force.
Like Gabriel García Márquez, 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.