Named one of the Best Fiction Novels of 2017 by The Guardian
"[An] important work . . . Individual stories offer personal perspectives on the history of Iraq, which has been in a constant state of war or conflict since 1980, and surreal and brutal descriptions of war atrocities are conveyed. Family secrets offer another window onto the past as relatives struggle to find peace despite news of the dead and missing. Al-Ramli's poignant tale is a standard in contemporary Middle Eastern literature."
"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 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."—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 beautiful novel . . . In writing about ordinary Iraqis who pay the cost of wars waged by remote, autocratic leaders, Al-Ramli touches on deep and timeless themes . . . Consistently compelling."—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, winner of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize
"One of the most important contemporary Iraqi novelists and writers."—El Mundo
"A stunning achievement . . . Abdullah's journey gives the book its title: he ends up tending the Iraqi president's sumptuous garden--but of course digging holes in the earth is not as innocuous a task as it might seem under his rule. [Yet] Saddam Hussein's name is never mentioned, which has the effect of allowing The President's Gardens to work as a comment on any totalitarian regime."—Ben East, The National
"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
"Masterful . . . In The President's Gardens, the dead have already suffered enough; it is the living who do not come away unscathed."—Malu Halasa, co-author and editor of Syria Speaks
"This extraordinary portrait of three friends growing up in Saddam Hussein's Iraq uses a range of storytelling traditions, infusing tragedy with comedy, the epic with the intimate, and the real with the surreal . . . By the time the book reaches the elaborate gardens where many of Saddam's victims are buried, it has taken the reader through tragedy, imprisonment, and war. Yet the overwhelming impression left is of the indefatigability of the human spirit. A tour de force."—Rachel Halliburton, Prospect
"How do you preserve dignity amidst the relentless carnage and multination 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 MacAlindin, author of Upbeat: The Story of the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq
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