Friday, 22 November 2019

Daughter of the Tigris by Muhsin Al-Ramli


Daughter of the Tigris by Muhsin Al-Ramli
First published in Arabic in November 2019. English language translation by Luke Leafgren published in the UK by MacLehose Press on the 14th November 2019.

One of my 2019 New Release Challenge reads and a Book With A Vegetarian Character

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


On the sixth day of Ramadan, in a land without bananas, Qisma leaves for Baghdad with her husband-to-be to find the body of her father. But in the bloodiest year of a bloody war, how will she find one body among thousands?

For Tariq, this is more than just a marriage of convenience: the beautiful, urbane Qisma must be his, body and soul. But can a sheikh steeped in genteel tradition share a tranquil bed with a modern Iraqi woman?

The President has been deposed, and the garden of Iraq is full of presidents who will stop at nothing to take his place. Qisma is afraid - afraid for her son, afraid that it is only a matter of time before her father's murderers come for her.

The only way to survive is to take a slice of Iraq for herself. But ambition is the most dangerous drug of all, and it could just seal Qisma's fate.

I was impressed by Muhsin Al-Ramli's novel, The President's Gardens, when I read it in 2017 so eagerly requested a review copy of its sequel, Daughter Of The Tigris. Unfortunately I could not see that Daughter Of The Tigris repeated the gripping storytelling of the first novel so I have ended up being quite disappointed with it. Al-Ramli centres his tale around the political and financial carving up of Iraq's assets and infrastructure in the years following the war and focuses on Tariq and Qisma, a couple who married for convenience and who, during the course of the novel, forge ahead with attempts to secure their own slice of success and power.

Daughter Of The Tigris does start out well, but I felt that the characterisations swiftly ran out of steam. Even Tariq and Qisma felt two-dimensional and I soon got weary with many of their conversations being summarised to readers. Their establishment of an anodyne political party gets repetitive and I am sorry to say that I was often bored by this story. I feel my lack of connection with the narrative was due to excessive telling, rather than showing, because this is a writing style which doesn't really work for me. It's a shame because I could understand important points that Al-Ramli wanted to make about Iraq's social and political situation. I would still highly recommend readers to The President's Gardens, but sadly I am only lukewarmly enthusiastic about Daughter Of The Tigris.


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10 comments:

  1. I don't know why that opening line had me laughing. A land without bananas... just something about it tickled me. Sorry to hear you didn't like this one as much as the first. I hate when that happens!

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    1. Sadly this one felt like a rushed follow-up with very little of the aspects I loved in the first book

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  2. Sorry to hear you didn't like this one as much as you'd had hoped you would.

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  3. The summarizing would bother me too. All telling, not showing.

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  4. Oh dear :( I am sorry that you were so hopeful about it but it didn't work out for you. I hope your next read will be better! It's always a shame when the characters don't really catch your attention and then storyline gets repetitive too.

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    1. This was the second of two disappointing sequels I read back to back. Fortunately I had some stronger books to follow them!

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  5. Oh man. Sucks when that happens! Especially for a book that you were expecting to love.

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    1. Exactly! I settled down for a good read and was quite quickly disappointed!

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