April 20, 2023
Quentin Perissinotto reviews “The orchards of Basra” for Le Regard Libre

Quentin Perissinotto reviews “The orchards of Basra” for Le Regard Libre

By Quentin Perissinotto for Le Regard Libre, 11 April 2023

The Orchards of Basra is an illusory attempt to resuscitate images and bring them to life. Hishâm, an antique book dealer in Cairo, is inhabited and haunted by a dream: he sees angels picking all the jasmine in Basra. Determined to decipher the meaning of this dream, he flips through the pages of an 8th century manuscript , The Great Book of the Interpretation of Dreams , which lists this vision. He discovers there that the author predicts this vision as the slow and disastrous disappearance of all the intellectuals of the city.

Over the course of increasingly haunting fantasies, Hishâm then begins to navigate between Cairo, where he lives, and the Basra of the end of the Umayyad period, a city where Islamic thought, still in the making, was constructed in the circles of great theologians.

Mansoura Ez-Eldin creates a plot made of historical back and forth, embedded narratives and tangled dreams, which blurs the boundaries between reality and reminiscence. Placed at the heart of this polyphony, the reader is transfixed by the murmurs and whispers, the lively discussions and the torments of amorous passion. Alternating paintings and eras, Les Jardins de Basra interweaves images, impressions and feelings to bring before our eyes the vestige of a fallen world (…)

Mansoura Ez-Eldin offers us a very metaphorical text, between past and present, which plays on the levels of reading. A text where the lexicon blooms with poetry (…)