Mahmoud Saeed

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Mahmoud Saeed
Image of Saeed at DePaul University in 2011
Saeed at DePaul University in 2011
Born 1939 (age 78–79)
Occupation Novelist, short story author, professor
Language Arabic
Nationality Iraqi
Citizenship United States
Notable works Sadaam City (I am the One Who Saw)

Mahmoud Saeed (born 1939) is an Iraqi-born American novelist.[1]

Born in Mosul, Saeed has written more than twenty novels and short story collections, and hundreds of articles. He started writing short stories at an early age. He wrote an award-winning short story in the Newspaper "Fata Al-Iraq, Newspaper" in 1956. He published a collection of short stories, Port Saeed and other stories, in 1957. In 1963, the government after 1963 coup destroyed his two novel manuscripts one under review, "The Old Case" and "The Strike".

Government censorship prevented his novel Rhythm and Obsession from being published in 1968, and banned his novel Rue Ben Barka, in 1970. Rue Ben Barka was published fifteen years later in Egypt 1985, Jordan 1992/1993, and Beirut in 1997. Authorities banned the publication of any book written by the author from 1963 to 2008. His most important novels after Ben Barka Lane are The Girls of Jacob, The World Through the Angel's Eyes, I am the One Who Saw, and Trilogy of Chicago.


American University of Iraq at Sulaimani[edit]

Saeed currently is the first writer-in-residence at the American University of Iraq at Sulaimani, where he teaches calligraphy. He previously taught intermediate and advanced Arabic language courses at DePaul University, as well as Arab Culture and Iraqi Political history.[2][3][4]

Saddam City[edit]

Saddam City, published in 2004 by Dar Al-Saqi in London, is Saeed's most famous novel. The title was changed from the original Arabic title, I am the One Who Saw (أنا الذي رأى) (ISBN 9780863563508), and was translated into English by Lake Forest College sociology professor Ahmad Sadri.[4][5] The book was later translated and published in Italian with the same title.[2]

Saddam City depicts the fear and despair of Baghdad schoolteacher Mustafa Ali Noman as he is shuttled from one prison to another after being detained by Iraqi security forces during the heights of Saddam Hussein's rule in the 1970s. The senselessness of his arrest and the torture he and other prisoners endure drive Mustafa to see Hussein's Iraq as a place where "being free only meant one thing: imminent arrest." The novel is based on the true experience of Saeed's experiences as a political prisoner in Iraq.[6][7][8]

The book has been received well by critics, one of which called Saeed's novel "... bracingly convincing ... a simply beautiful, though inevitably harrowing, tale."[9][10] also wrote that "Mahmoud Saeed's devastating novel evokes the works of Kafka, Solzhenitsyn and Elie Wiesel. It is a vivid account of the wanton and brutal treatment of the Iraqi people by Saddam Hussein's feared secret police and of the arbitrariness of life under tyranny." The novel has applauded for highlighting positive aspects of Arab and Iraqi culture, including friendship, community, respect, generosity, and hospitality. Saddam City was also considered one of the best 56 novels in the world by the website Library Thing.[11][12]

According to the author, the original transcript of the novel included two additional chapters. These, however were censored from the novel by the Arab literature guild in Damascus, Syria. Because of this, he instead initially published it in a pen name, Mustafa Ali Nooman in 1981. The book was republished in Cairo, Egypt under his real name in 2006.[13]


He wrote hundreds of articles and short stories in magazines and Newspapers the following: Al-Adab. Beirut. Life. London. Al-Quds Al-Arabi. London. Azzaman. London. Al-Khalige. Sharjah. Al-Ithad. Abu Dhabi. Lotus. Tunisia. Damascus. Range - Damascus. New culture - Damascus. Literary News - Cairo. Egyptian Al-Ahram, Al-Jadid. Los Angeles. Alienation - London. Magazine story, "London." Stream Magazine - Sharjah. Banipal - London. Nizwa, Sultanate of Oman, Boy Mosul, Fatal Iraq,[32] Iraq / Iraq, and many others.


  • Best Short Story: Ominous Gun. Short story. Fata Al Iraq. Mosel. 1957.[14]
  • Rue bin Baraka, a novel, won the Iraqi Ministry of Information Award in 1993.[33]
  • The End of the Day, a novel, won the Story Club award in Egypt in 1996. [22]
  • The Woman Who Triumphed Over the Mongols, a short story, was the winner of the Sheikha Fatima Award in Abu Dhabi in 1999. [23]
  • The World Through the Eyes of the Angels, a novel, won the King Fahd MEST Center for Arabic Literature Translation Award. November 2010 [24]


  1. ^ About Mahmoud Saeed - Arab World Books
  2. ^ a b "Department of Modern Languages- Arabic". DePaul University. Retrieved 29 February 2012. 
  3. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-06-15. Retrieved 2012-03-01. 
  4. ^ a b Pierpoint, Claudia Roth (18 January 2012). "Found in Translation". The New Yorker. Retrieved 1 March 2012. 
  5. ^ "Exile on Main Street". WTTW. Archived from the original on 5 December 2011. Retrieved 23 May 2011. 
  6. ^ Dali, Keren; Dilevko, Juris; Garbutt, Glenda (2011). Contemporary World Fiction: A Guide to Literature in Translation. Libraries Unlimited. p. 49. ISBN 978-1-59158-353-0. Retrieved 1 March 2012. 
  7. ^ Mary Whipple (20 January 2011). "Mahmoud Saeed–SADDAM CITY". Retrieved 5 March 2012. 
  8. ^ Stephen Morison. "The Humpbacked Minaret: An Interview with Mahmoud Saeed". Fiction Writers Review. Retrieved 5 March 2012. 
  9. ^ "An extraordinary book|Saddam City|Mahmoud Saeed". Impressum. Retrieved 5 March 2012. 
  10. ^ "Saddam City (Paperback)". Independent. 25 April 2004. Retrieved 29 February 2012. 
  11. ^ a b "Around the world in 192 books - Depressaholic's Challenge Part 2". Library Thing. 22 December 2009. Retrieved 29 February 2012. 
  12. ^ J. Varghese (23 February 2009). "Customer Reviews Saddam City". Amazon. Retrieved 1 March 2012. 
  13. ^ أنا الذي رأى) لـ: محمود سعيد) . (in Arabic). Retrieved 29 February 2012. 
  14. ^ a b c محمود سعيد . (in Arabic). Retrieved 29 February 2012. 
  15. ^ a b "Author: Mahmoud Said - Iraq" (in Arabic). Syrian Story. Retrieved 29 February 2012. 
  16. ^ عدنان حسين أحمد (22 October 2005). "الروائي محمود سعيد ل - الحوار المتمدن -: المقلٍّد دون المقلًّد دائماً، ولكل طريقته، والمهم في نظري الصدق في التعبير". (in Arabic). Retrieved 1 March 2012. 
  17. ^[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ "مع الروائي العراقي الكبير : محمود سعيد". Retrieved 1 March 2012. 
  19. ^ "Saddam City ( أنا الذي راء ) by Mahmoud Saeed". 
  20. ^ Mahmoud Saeed: new books, used books, rare books by Saeed, Mahmoud @
  21. ^ صحيفة 26سبتمبر - أحمد محمد أمين - قراءة في "الدنيا في أعين الملائكة"
  22. ^
  23. ^ Contemporary Iraqi Fiction: An Anthology Fiction Middle East Literature in Translation: Shakir Mustafa: Books
  24. ^ :: آفــاق - صفحة المقال ::
  25. ^[permanent dead link]
  26. ^ Freedom: Short Stories Celebrating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by Amnesty International - Reviews, Discussion, Bookclubs, Lists
  27. ^ FARFESH - "الجندي والخنازير" للروائي العراقي محمود سعيد
  28. ^ عناوين ثقافية
  29. ^ الطعنة: محمود سعيد: كتب
  30. ^ محمود سعيد (Author of أنا الذى رأي)
  31. ^ الأخبار - ثقافة وفن - محمود سعيد ونطة الضفدع
  32. ^ Google Translate
  33. ^ (بنات يعقوب) رواية جديدة للروائي العراقي محمود سعيد

External links[edit]