domingo, 2 de septiembre de 2018

Muhsin Al-Ramli novela el horror del Irak


Muhsin Al-Ramli novela el horror del Irak de Sadam Hussein
Muhsin Al-Ramli (Irak, 1967). / Fotografía de Khaled Kaki

Presentación WMagazín
Con el vídeo del narrador y dramaturgo iraquí leyendo 'Los jardines del presidente' sigue la sección Veranos de Avances Literarios Exclusivos. Una obra conmovedora basada en hechos reales que obtuvo el English Pen Award
 “En un país sin platanares, los habitantes del pueblo se despertaron con el hallazgo de nueve cajas para transportar plátanos. En cada una de ellas estaban depositados la cabeza degollada de uno de sus hijos y el documento que lo identificaba…”.
Es el comienzo de Los jardines del presidente (Alianza), la novela con la cual el narrador y dramaturgo iraquí Muhsin Al-Ramli cuenta la historia de hechos reales del Irak de Sadam Hussein y con la cual obtuvo el English Pen Award. Una obra que llegará a las librerías el 25 de octubre y que incluimos en nuestro especial Veranos de Avances Literarios Exclusivos con la lectura de viva voz de su autor y un pasaje del texto.
Los jardines del presidente es una de las obras que protagonizarán la temporada otoño-invierno y que se une a esta biblioteca de WMagazín de la que ya forman parte Álvaro Pombo y su Retrato del vizconde en invierno (Destino) y del investigador Danny Orbach Las conspiraciones contra Hitler(Tusquets), Marcos Giralt Torrente con Mudar de piel (Anagrama) y Mircea Cartarescu con Cegador I: El ala izquierda (Impedimenta). Más adelante será el turno de autores como  Gabriel García Márquez, María Zambrano, Rodrigo Rey Rosa…
Al-Ramli es uno de los cinco autores que leen sus pasajes en un vídeo exclusivo que forma parte del acto de WMagazín en la 77ª Feria del Libro de Madrid, en junio de 2018, en el cual participaron también Álvaro Pombo, Marbel Sandoval Ordóñez, Marcos Giralt Torrente y Luna Miguel.
Muhsin Al-Ramli (Irak, 1967) es uno de los narradores, dramaturgos y poetas iraquíes más importantes, además de traductor de varios clásicos españoles al árabe. Vive en España desde 1995, año en que fue empujado al exilio por el régimen de Sadam Hussein. Es fundador de la revista cultural Alwah en 1997, de la que es coeditor, desde 2004 es profesor en la Universidad de San Luis, Madrid. Es hermano del también escritor Hassan Mutlak, considerado como el “Lorca iraquí” por parte de la intelectualidad de su país, que fue ahorcado por el régimen en 1990 tras haber participado en un intento de golpe de Estado.
Los invitamos a ver y leer a Muhsin Al-Ramli en Los jardines del presidente que editorial Alianza publicará en España el 25 de octubre:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1iD0UgDyxE
Muhsin Al-Ramli lee un pasaje de 'El jardín del presidente' en el acto de WMagazín en la Feria del Libro de Madrid 2018

Muhsin Al-Ramli: 'Los jardines del presidente' (Alianza)

Hijos de la grieta de la tierra
En un país sin platanares, los habitantes del pueblo se despertaron con el hallazgo de nueve cajas para transportar plátanos. En cada una de ellas estaban depositados la cabeza degollada de uno de sus hijos y el documento que lo identificaba, ya que algunos rostros habían quedado totalmente desfigurados por la tortura anterior a su decapitación o por la posterior mutilación, tanto que los rasgos con que habían sido conocidos a lo largo de su truncada vida ya no eran suficientes para identificarlos.
La primera persona que se percató de la presencia de aquellas cajas tiradas por la acera de la calle principal fue Ismael, el pastor retrasado. Se acercó con curiosidad, sin apearse de su burra, cuya imagen, de tanto montarla a la amazona, era inseparable de la suya, como si se tratara de un solo cuerpo. Cuando Ismael vio las cabezas ensangrentadas en las cajas, se deslizó de la montura y se agachó, tocándolas con la punta de la vara que llevaba. Llegó a reconocer algunas. Todo resto del sueño que tenía se le disipó de los ojos, que restregó con fuerza para asegurarse de que estaba despierto. Miró alrededor con el fin de cerciorarse de su propia existencia y de que se hallaba en su pueblo y no en otro lugar.
La madrugada se encontraba en su último brillo plateado. A ambos lados de la calle, las tiendas estaban cerradas; el pueblo, dormido y totalmente silencioso excepto por los cantos de unos gallos y el lejano ladrido de un perro, seguido por la respuesta de otro perro en un extremo aún más distante.
En aquel momento, Ismael se liberó de un antiguo remordimiento que lo perseguía en pesadillas, desde su adolescencia, porque le había cortado la lengua a una cabra que lo agobiaba con su balido mientras tejía un cinturón de lana para Hamida, en medio de la soledad y del silencio del Valle de las Hienas. También superó luego la mudez que le sobrevino al ver las cabezas en las cajas de plátanos y se puso a gritar con todas sus fuerzas, hasta tal punto que la burra se asustó, el rebaño de ovejas se paralizó y las palomas y los gorriones echaron a volar de los árboles y de los tejados. Siguió chillando, sin saber exactamente lo que profería con sus aullidos, que se parecían a los balidos de aquella cabra cuya lengua había cortado y asado. No tardó en ver a algunas personas corriendo desde las casas cercanas, y luego a toda la gente del pueblo, que acudía desde todas partes, después de que alguien lanzara la voz de alarma por los altavoces de la mezquita.
Si Abdulá Kafka hablara de aquel incidente, diría:
—Era el tercer día del mes de ramadán del año 2006. Según las antiguas crónicas históricas, eso ocurrió cuando un ser amorfo y extraño, de complexión enorme y cabeza pequeña, y de nombre Estados Unidos de América, vino de allende los océanos y ocupó un país llamado Irak. Los historiadores aclaran en sus anotaciones que los seres humanos de aquel entonces tenían corazones primitivamente crueles y brutales, como los corazones de los depredadores. Por eso, en sus relaciones escabrosas se daban comportamientos vergonzosos, tal como la agresión, el terrorismo, la guerra, la invasión y la ocupación. En aquellos tiempos remotos, la humanidad estaba sumida en la oscuridad de los corazones y no en la de las mentes o de las visiones, de modo que el ser humano pensaba en matar a su prójimo y, lo que era aún peor, podía efectivamente materializarlo.
  • Los jardines del presidente. Muhsin Al-Ramli. Traducción de Nehad Bebans. Alianza publicará la novela el 25 de octubre de 2018.
Nehad Bebars, la traductora de Los jardines del presidente
Las críticas y reseñas de Los jardines del presidente en Reino Unido han sido muy positivas. The Guardian, por ejemplo, dijo: “Pese a estar arraigado en un contexto concreto, los valores de El jardín del presidente son universales. Es una profunda reflexión sobre el amor, la muerte y la injusticia, y una afirmación de la importancia de la dignidad, la amistad y lo que significa la opresión. La novela es indudablemente una tragedia, pero su carácter esclarecedor y sus persistentes toques de humor hacen muy gratificante su lectura”. Financial Times: “Un relato entrelazado por los amplios lazos de la historia: la sangrienta dictadura, la invasión y la ocupación”.
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*Publicado por WMagazín, en lunes 20, Ago 2018
*Y en Huffpost, en 21, Ago 2018

lunes, 27 de agosto de 2018

Carta/ Muhsin Al-Ramli / EL PAÍS SEMANAL



CARTA BLANCA
El silencio es de oro

El escritor iraquí residente en España escribe a su hija y le habla del valor del mestizaje y de la lectura. También del peligro de hablar demasiado.

QUERIDA SARA: Me preocupa tu silencio, y me tranquiliza a la vez. Sé que estás al principio de tu adolescencia, cuando uno se siente tímido o incluso algo vergonzoso, sin saber de qué exactamente, y por otro lado tiene cierta sensación de que solo él y el mundo existen en el universo, dos rivales, donde cada uno intenta cambiar al otro a su gusto.
Me preocupa tu silencio porque quiero escucharte. Nuestros sabios antepasados decían: “Habla para que te vea”, y yo quiero verte en cada momento y que tú también me veas, escuchándome. Quiero decirte, por ejemplo, que tienes que estar orgullosa por tener mezcla de sangres, culturas, lenguas y nacionalidades: española, iraquí y alemana, y me agradó conocer que la mayoría de tus amigos y compañeros en el colegio son mestizos. También quiero que enseñes a tu hermanito pequeño Murad (MuMu) cómo estar orgulloso de su mezcla española, egipcia e iraquí. Esta fortuna y suerte del mestizo y heterogéneo no la conocía hasta que vine a España hace más de 20 años, porque antes nos enseñaban a ser fanáticos por una sola nación, patria, lengua, religión, y todo allí es uno, unificado, uniformado y resumido en un símbolo dictatorial agobiante. Tu tío Hassan Mutlak, uno de mis hermanos mayores y al que le gustaba mucho leer, escribir y pintar, era muy consciente de ello. Él fue el primero en aconsejarme que me abriera a otras culturas, que leyera el Quijote, por ejemplo, y me decía lo que don Quijote decía a Sancho: “La libertad, Muhsin, es uno de los más preciosos dones que a los hombres dieron los cielos; con ella no pueden igualarse los tesoros que encierran la tierra y el mar: por la libertad, así como por la honra, se puede y debe aventurar la vida”. Y así él aventuró su vida, y se enfrentó al dictador tirano, y fue ahorcado a las siete de la tarde el día 18 de julio de 1990, y como era escritor moderno, pintor y poeta, los intelectuales iraquíes le consideran como “el Lorca iraquí”. Quiero hablarte mucho de él; de mi padre, quien le enseñó a sí mismo a leer y escribir; de mi madre, quien soñaba verte antes de morir; de mi obligada experiencia en la guerra como jefe de tanque; de lo mucho que me han servido la lectura, la paciencia, la tolerancia y los sueños. Quiero que dejes de mirar tanto el teléfono y que mires a tu alrededor, que leas más libros. Yo leía incluso dentro del tanque, debajo del bombardeo. La lectura me salvó la vida, me dio confianza en mis sueños y en mí mismo, me dio de comer también, porque la cultura da de comer, mientras que la comida no da cultura.
Me tranquiliza tu silencio porque nuestros viejos sabios nos decían que “si el habla es de plata, el silencio es de oro”, y efectivamente la vida me ha enseñado que gran parte de los problemas de la gente es por culpa de hablar demasiado, y que el silencio es uno de los mejores trucos o medios de salvación en situaciones peligrosas.
Mucho de lo que quiero decirte está en mis libros y en los demás libros. En cada uno hay algo que quería decirte. Así que, por favor, si no quieres hablarme tanto, no dejes por lo menos de leer.
Ya sabes lo mucho que te quiero, pero lo que no sabes es que eres mucho mejor que la hija que he soñado tener en toda mi vida.
Muhsin Al-Ramli y Sara, en la feria del libro de Madrid
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*Se publicó en (EL PAÍS SEMANAL), N°2,181 Domino 15 De Julio 2018




https://www.elocuent.com/si-el-habla-es-de-plata-el-silencio-es-de-oro-muhsin-al-ramli/?inf_contact_key=fbaa01c952c81a94240f3738f848e6a6a91698577af854620f8a413302b71817

miércoles, 15 de agosto de 2018

Short story, by Muhsin Al-Ramli


"I KILLED HER BECAUSE I LOVED HER"

Muhsin Al-Ramli, translated by Jonathan Wright



The following short story, “I Killed Her Because I Loved Her,” by Muhsin Al-Ramli, is an exclusive excerpt from the new anthology Baghdad Noir. Edited by Samuel Shimon, this collection has been 10 years in the making, and demonstrates the power of crime fiction as a method of processing ongoing trauma, as well as past experience.

 al-Fadhil District

We found Qamar’s body in the courtyard—it was half past five in the morning, and her mother’s screams echoed throughout the old Baghdad house in the Fadhil District. Qamar had been the most beautiful girl in our neighborhood. Now her arms were still and lifeless, her legs splayed open, and her luxuriant hair framed her face like the dark moon suspended in the sky above us. From the second-floor balcony where I stood, Qamar looked like she’d been crucified. The old landlord approached the body. When he saw that there was no blood he took her pulse at the wrist and neck, then announced that she was indeed dead. He pulled a slip of paper from her fingers. It said: I killed her because I loved her. He adjusted his glasses and read it again, then went to the main gate of the building to inspect the padlocks and bars that had been installed after the Americans came. He found them all firmly locked—just as he secured them at ten every evening when the curfew came into effect. Then he went to his room to call the police.

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The short story “I Killed Her Because I Loved Her” by Muhsin Al-Ramli is excerpted from Baghdad Noir, edited by Samuel Shimon. Used with permission of the publisher, Akashic Books. Copyright © 2018 by by Muhsin Al-Ramli, translation copyright © 2018 by Jonathan Wright. 

domingo, 15 de julio de 2018

Muhsin Al-Ramli / Emirates Literature Festival


A Weapon of Peace in Times of War
The power of reading was the most useful weapon for Muhsin Al-Ramli, an Iraqi writer and translator. HSS students had the pleasure of listening to his life story, which corresponded with the #UAEReads campaign, in the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature on March 8. Al-Ramli’s dream was to be a successful writer, and that dream became stronger throughout his time as a soldier. His anecdotal method in telling his story left the students inspired to read and realize their dreams.
By: Dhabia Khalfan Harib
When he was a soldier, Muhsin Al-Ramli never killed anyone because his strongest weapon was reading.
“Yes, reading is destructive,” Al-Ramli said in a speech at The Emirates Airlines Literature Festival. “It destroys all the misconceptions held by an individual and thus creates a more wholesome being.”
Al-Ramli is an Iraqi writer who fought in the Gulf War and has been living in Spain for the past 23 years. He is best known for the complete translation of Don Quixote from Spanish to Arabic. ZU students from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences had the pleasure of attending Al-Ramli’s speech among the three different sessions on March 8.
Al-Ramli’s speech was the third and final talk attended by the HSS students at the literature festival. It was called “Literary Experience in the Diaspora” and was in line with the #UAEReads campaign.
As stated in the title of the talk, Al-Ramli used an anecdotal method to relay his experiences about the places reading has taken him.
He told a story about how some people in his own community perceived reading to be destructive as one person in their community was influenced by so called “spell books”. That is why they had this negative association with reading.
In times of war Al-Ramli would read constantly. Whenever they had to go into bunkers, he would make sure he has books around him as it provided him with a sense of tranquillity.
His comrades would make fun of him, especially when they were looting and Al-Ramli passed up on the gold and went straight to the libraries to take as many books as possible.
Their disregard took many forms. When Al-Ramli would say he would become a famous writer in the West, they sniggered.
Through war, books were a source of peace for him. He had to move to Jordan for reasons he did not state, and then he came back to Iraq. In both places, he had to work tedious manual jobs. This further encouraged him to follow his dream of becoming a writer.
He applied to three universities in the West, two of which rejected him and the third barely let him in. Due to this, his life changed forever. He immersed himself in literature, learnt Spanish and gave the world an Arabic Don Quixote that does not miss any of the nuances of the original.
Al-Ramli admitted that he never killed anyone in his time as a soldier and that his strongest weapon was reading. It opened his mind to a new world of possibilities and lead him from working as a gardener in Iraq to becoming a professor in Spain and one of the most important Arab figures in the literature scene.
The students and other attendees were very receptive to his talk as the regular laughs and applause would briefly stop Al-Ramli’s telling of his story.
“Al-Ramli’s talk was by far the best today not only because of the hardships he faced but because he connected with the audience and inspired me to read more,” one student said.
http://zajelzu.ae/2018/04/01/weapon-peace-times-war/


martes, 10 de julio de 2018

Marc Nash. About Mushin Al-Ramli's "The President's Gardens"

Marc Nash
About
Mushin Al-Ramli's "The President's Gardens"





The President’s Gardens. View by alexreadsboooks



 Review:

The President’s Gardens 

by Muhsin Al-Ramli

by alexreadsboooks
On the morning of the third day of Ramadan, a village in Iraq wakes to find the heads of nine of its men stacked in banana crates by the bus stop. One of them, known to his friends as Ibrahim the Fated, is one of the most wanted men in Iraq. From the village of his birth through three wars and the lives of his best friends, The President’s Gardens tells the story of how Ibrahim earned the enmity of so many people, and of what lies buried in the Presiden’s Gardens, unknown to the people of Iraq.
I was really excited when I found this book at the book shop a few months ago, because I haven’t read anything by an Iraqi author before and so I jumped at the chance of buying it. It’s not a decision I regret.
The President’s Garden is beautifully written and I was drawn in as soon as I opened it. Set in a country that as an outsider I connect more with news of war and terrorism than with beauty, it manages to convey an image of Iraq that does find the beauty, even in a situation as terrible as the one the country is still in.
The great thing about the narration is that while it takes a winding path from the discovery of the heads through the histories of Ibrahim and his two best friends, Abdullah Kafka and Tariq the Befuddled, back to the events at the beginning of the novel, it never seems pointless or dull. The story is told so vividly and interesting that I couldn’t put the book down until I had finished it.
I also really liked the characters,  they were complex and interesting, and while most of them were male, I really liked the women as well. Especially Ibrahim’s daughter Qisma was very compelling in her desire to live a better life than the one she knew from the village.
But most importantly, it struck me how seldom we get to hear about the victims of the war in Iraq compared to the amount of stories we get to hear about the Western side of it. And because of that I think this book is actually really important, because while it’s only one novel, there is not a single American in it, and for those who still struggle with realising that the people in Iraq are just as human as we are in the West, I think it would help them to understand things on the other side of the conflict a little better.
Summary:
The President’s Gardens is an epic novel about Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, following the lives of three friends from the beginning of the Iran-Iraq War to the aftermath of the American invasion.
Abdullah loses twenty years to Iranian captivity before returning to learn the terrible truth of his birth. Tariq, the son of the local Sheik, avoids the army, and becomes a man of power and influence, able to help his friends but always careful to keep his own interests closest to his heart. Ibrahim loses a foot in the first Gulf War and his wife to cancer before taking on a menial job in the gardens of one of the president’s many palaces – a job whose responsibilities will escalate beyond his wildest imaginings.
The multiple, multi-generational stories woven together in The President’s Gardens are brought to life by a vivid and memorable cast of characters, and may remind the reader of The Kite-Runner, The Yellow Birds and One Hundred Years of Solitude. Epic in scope, moving, philosophical and true, it packs an ocean of wisdom in its 400 pages, and has much to impart about war and oppression, love and marriage, fathers and daughters, and what it means to live under a murderous, totalitarian regime.

lunes, 9 de julio de 2018

Muhsin Al-Ramli: why I wrote THE PRESIDENT'S GARDENS


Muhsin Al-Ramli: why I wrote
THE PRESIDENT'S GARDENS

Muhsin Al-Ramli describes the terrible events that inspired, and the remarkable reception of, The President's Gardens
"I began writing The President’s Gardens in 2006 after receiving the news of the murder of nine of my relatives, who were fasting on the third day of Ramadan. The people of the village found only their heads in banana crates, along with their identity cards. I dedicated the novel to their souls. It was a huge shock to me. It horrified me, and, to start with, the novel was a reaction to this event undertaken without planning or a clear vision. So I put it aside in the hope of achieving an old ambition of writing a novel encompassing what ordinary people have suffered through the violent tragedies of Iraq in its modern history, a novel like The Bridge over the Drina by the Yugoslav novelist Ivo Andrić, which relates the history of his country over generations and in which the bridge is the focal point unifying the different events and periods of the book.
Another motivation was that when I have taken part in cultural activities and events in many countries, I have seen the difficulty people have in understanding the complexity of the Iraqi situation, and I have felt extremely sad and angry when the world press reports Iraqi victims as though they were merely numbers. I began to gather information systematically. I travelled to Syria to meet my brother and his son there to ask them for more details. I did not start writing again until the end of 2008, after reading an old, short news story about someone whose work was to bury anonymous executed people in Iraq and who secretly kept something belonging to them, whether it was a card, a bill, a watch or a ring. He would record some of their personal characteristics and information about where they were buried. After the fall of the regime, he helped many families to find the remains of corpses of their lost ones.
It took about four years to write, but the work was not continuous. I would write and then stop to write other things, then return to the novel, search for more information and go back to it, asking advice from friends, and so on. It was written in four places: I began in Madrid and carried on in Granada and Iraq where I went for a short time and did more research. I finished the first draft in Asturias, in northern Spain. After that, I did various revisions in Madrid, so it was begun and finished there, where I live.
The novel has been received far better than I expected. The critical views expressed reassured me that it was technically solid. Readers' views, which are the most important, made me feel that this novel had conveyed the message I intended. I received calls and letters from readers who follow my writings, who said that “this is the novel we have been waiting for you to write”. Others said: “We now understand what was going on in Iraq and the reasons for what is happening now.” Some confessed that their view had completely changed – they had previously been sympathetic towards the ousted dictator of Iraq and supported him against his enemies. Some on social networks wrote about their hope that rulers of the people they rule would read it, so that the whirlpool of violence in this Arab world of ours would become calmer. And there was someone from Iraq thanking me because I had managed to express their pain."
Muhsin Al-Ramli is an Iraqi writer, poet, academic and translator, born in the village of Sudara in northern Iraq in 1967. He has lived in Madrid since 1995. The President's Gardens was longlisted for the IPAF, known as the "Arabic Booker", in 2013.