This week’s debut is to be commended for bringing a lesser-known voice to the world, that of a gay Syrian refugee who tells the story of his life in a Scheherazade bid to keep his terminally ill lover alive... Despite chapter titles that break up the text, the flow is off, with issues of tense and time drawing us out of the fiction. Characters shuffle on and off the stage – old high school friends, gay friends, wives of former lovers – too fleetingly for us to fully care about them... But along the way there are moments and scenes of intense clarity and poignancy that will stop readers in their tracks and allow us to learn much about the cruelties of life in far-flung lands... Although Ramadan does not sustain this level of prose elsewhere, which may be a factor of translation – “The beatings from your husband should taste like raisins in your mouth” – there is enough within the covers to understand the book’s value and various accolades.
"One Booker shortlist later, Galley Beggar were proved correct. Ellmann’s novel isn’t perfect, and it may not take the prize, but in a world where Ian McEwan is still at large, something introspective and richly painted is a tonic for us all...."
— The Daily Telegraph
4.25 out of 5