Muhsin al-Ramli: حدائق الرئيةة (The President’s Gardens)

The latest addition to my website is Muhsin al-Ramli‘s حدائق الرئيةة (The President’s Gardens). The novel tells the stories of three close Iraqi male friends. At the beginning of the novel, in the village where htey live, nine crates are found, containing the severed heads of various villagers, including one of the three friends, Ibrahim. The book tells how w got there, with lots of violence as a result of the Iran-Iraq War, the the Gulf War, the interim period when Saddam sees enemies everywhere, the Iraq War and the aftermath of that war. The three friends and we see a huge amount of violence as a direct result of the wars and of Saddam Hussein’s butchery. Al-Ramli spares us no details. We learn why Ibrahim was murdered, the origins of one of the three friends, Abdullah, a foundling, and what the President’s Gardens had to do with the story which, despite the beautiful gardens, turn out to be no prettier than the rest of the book. Al-Ramli left Iraq for Madrid in 1995. This book shows why he and many other Iraqis went into exile.

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