The President’s Gardens by Mushin Al-Ramli
Make no mistake this is a very powerful novel. The President’s Gardens written by Mushin Al-Ramli and translated by Luke Leafgren is a book not to be taken lightly and is an incredibly beautiful novel that has passion running through its heart. An outstanding achievement in Iraqi literature.
A story of incredible tragedy in unimaginable proportions. A story of three friends Abdullah, Tariq and Ibrahim that have been friends all their life and growing up in war torn Iraq. The sheer hell that was the war between Iraq and their neighbours Iran and then through the invasion of Kuwait through to the American led invasion of 2003.
Haunting is the word I would use here, the opening gives the reader a lot to absorb and through the remaining pages the is more detail and along with more detailed descriptions of life in Iraq. The one aspect of this novel that pours out of the pages is ‘war’ it is ever present through the lives of the people of this country. Some of the descriptions of the ravages of war on villages and people are detailed at upsetting and the author does not shy away from writing this into the storyline. It is the horror of war that you cannot escape from. Some may find this disturbing but there are some very moving and beautiful moments in the story that bring joy and emotion to a deeply powerful novel. The three friends despite knowing each other for nearly all their life are uniquely different shaped by the events that have engulfed their country this is their story and there is tragedy waiting for one of them while the other has seen enough and longs for peace while the remaining friend has escaped the worst but things he does will have significant ramifications.
To quote from the book “The skies rained down hell, the earth vomited it back up . . . the simple Iraqi soldiers who resisted fought in despair and died.” The writing is just incredible how the author tells a story of love, death war and more war. There is no escape. Although first published in Arabic in 2012 this is a book that needs to be read and should be read widely. It is an incredible read if upsetting at times. The story ends with “To be continued” Does this mean that we can expect a follow story. I for one earnestly hope that this is the case. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Thank you to Paul Engles and MacLehose Press for the advanced review copy of The President’s Gardens.
The President’s Gardens by Mushin Al-Ramli is published by MacLehouse Press and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.