Saddam Hussein’s Novella — Which Publishers Compare to ‘GoT’ and ‘HoC’ — Is Getting an English Translation


A novella by Saddam Hussein was first published, with the help of his daughter,Raghad Saddam Hussein, in Amman, Jordan in 2005 — and is now getting an English translation. But before saying anything more, perhaps it needs stating that yes, Saddam Hussein wrote a novella. (The deceased dictator actually had a somewhat prolific literary career. He wrote initially under the pen name “the Author” and may have sometimes used ghostwriters: when the C.I.A. investigated the actual authorship of Zabibah and the King — allegedly Hussein’s book, which was a bestseller in Iraq and of which a musical was made — they thought it probable that he supervised it and conceived ut with the use of ghostwriters.)

The new-old novella has, by the company who’s publishing the translation, been described as a blend of the UK version of House of Cards and Game of Thrones. Given those descriptions, Hussein, who you may recall was executed back in 2006 as part of a certain wildly misguided and superfluous, must have had some impeccable premonition about what’d be popular in the 2010s pop culture — that or, more likely, the publishing company knows that it’s lucrative to compare things to popular machiavellian TV shows.

Either way, that publisher — Hesperus, an indie UK publisher of translated and out of print works — plans on releasing the translation in December, 2016. According to the Guardian, the particular month of the release was chosen “to mark the 10th anniversary of his execution.” The book — which was quickly banned in Jordan after it was published, but then provided an easy sell for bootleggers — was allegedly finished on the very night the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003 (a part of this whole narrative that seems a bit too journalistically perfect), and was, according to the New York Times, something of a foreshadowing allegory for the invasion.

The 186-page novella — whose previous translations in other languages bear propagandistic titles like Begone Devils and Get Out, You Damned Ones — is about a tribe living by the Euphrates River 1,500 years ago that rebels against and vanquishes an invasion. The book sees one conniving man trying to overthrow the tribe’s sheik in the interest of making them vulnerable to an attempt to ultimately, as NYT described it, “annihilate all Arabs.”

According to the Guardian, Hesperus is considering publishing Hussein’s other works as well.