Saddam Hussein's novels
Saddam Hussein, the late President of Iraq, wrote four novels and a number of poems. The first two books (Zabibah and the King and The Fortified Castle) were "Written by He Who Wrote It", a traditional way in Arabic writing to preserve anonymity.
Zabibah and the King
Zabibah and the King (Arabic: زبيبة والملك Zabībah wal-Malik), written in 2000, is a novel that the CIA believes was written by Saddam Hussein, probably with the help of some ghostwriters. The plot is a love story about a powerful ruler of medieval Iraq and a beautiful commoner girl named Zabibah. Zabibah's husband is a cruel and unloving man who rapes her. The book is set in 7th or 8th century Tikrit, Hussein's home town. The book was believed to be the subject of a Hollywood adaptation starring Sacha Baron Cohen. However, this turned out not to be true.
The Fortified Castle
The Fortified Castle (Arabic: القلعة الحصينة al-Qala'ah al-Haṣīnah) is a 713-page novel published in 2001. It is another allegorical work. It concerns the delayed wedding of the Iraqi hero, who fought in the war against Iran, to a Kurdish girl.
There are three characters: the two brothers Sabah and Mahmud, from a rural area on the west bank of the Tigris River who come from a farming family, and a young woman, Shatrin, from Suleimaniya. They all go to the same university in Baghdad.
Sabah is a war hero from the days of the Battle of New Qadisiyya (Iran-Iraq war), during which he was wounded in the leg and taken prisoner of war in Iran, from which he finally manages to escape with a few friends.
The power of the "fortified castle" (a reference to Iraq) lies in its unity; despite proposals to divide the property, the hero's mother refuses. She also states that it cannot be purchased with money: "Only those who give it their blood and defend it are its rightful owners."
Men and the City
Begone, Demons, also translated as Get Out You Damned, or Get Out of Here, Curse You! (Arabic: اخرج منها يا ملعون Uḵruj Minhā yā Mal'ūn) is Saddam Hussein's fourth and last novel, allegedly finished the day before U.S. forces invaded. The novel describes, through biblical metaphor, a Zionist-Christian conspiracy against Arabs and Muslims. An Arab army eventually thwarts the conspiracy by invading their enemy's land and destroying two massive towers, as a reference to the September 11 Attacks. The characters include the narrator, Abraham, named for the patriarch in Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions, and his grandchildren, three cousins named Ezekiel, Youssef and Mahmoud, who represent Jews, Christians and Muslims respectively.
The book was published in Tokyo by a Japanese publisher, Tokuma Shoten Publishing, in 2006 under the title Devil's Dance. A total of eight thousand copies were printed of the 256-page novel.
Raghad Hussein had tried to publish the novel in Jordan, and planned to print 100 thousand copies, until the government prevented the publication. It has not been translated or sold in any other languages.
- Bowden, Mark. "Tales of the Tyrant" The Atlantic, May 2002 Issue.
- Sciolino, Elaine (May 24, 2001). "C.I.A. Sleuths Study a Novel for the Thinking of Saddam". The New York Times.
- Zabiba and the King: By its Author Saddam Hussein, Robert Lawrence (Editor), May 2004, Virtualbookworm.com Publishing: ISBN 1-58939-585-9, 204 pgs.
- Brooks, Xan (20 January 2010). "Sacha Baron Cohen to star in film of Saddam Hussein novel". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 21 January 2010.
- Lim, Dennis (3 May 2012). "Sacha Baron Cohen Stars in 'The Dictator'". The New York Times.
- "Saddam 'second novel' in print". BBC News Online. 20 December 2001. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
- "Saddam's New Book: 'Begone, Accursed One!'". MEMRI - The Middle East Media Research Institute.
- "BBC NEWS - Middle East - 'Saddam novel' on sale in Tokyo". bbc.co.uk.
- Pipes, Daniel. "Saddam the Novelist :: Daniel Pipes". Retrieved 27 April 2010.
- "NorthJersey.com: Wife calls CIA bomber martyr". Herald News. Retrieved 27 April 2010.
- "Un roman de Saddam Hussein publié au Japon – Version imprimable – Divertissement – maghrebin". Retrieved 27 April 2010.
- Pipes, Daniel. "Saddam the Novelist."
- BBC: 'Saddam novel' on sale in Tokyo
- Middle East Media Research Institute: Special Dispatch Series No. 509