Ever wonder what Saddam Hussein was doing those long hot months in hiding as the Americans poked about his palaces following the fall of Baghdad? Who would have known that the former Butcher of Baghdad was in fact cultivating his literary prowess? Think Jackie Collins meets The Odyssey.
Get Out, You Damned One, Hussein’s fourth novel, centers around none other than a massive Zionist-Christian conspiracy and the work of one (fictional!) Arab leader in bringing about its downfall. While the novel first went into print without the author’s name, the pan-Arab paper Al Sharq Al Aswat printed it in its entirety as a wildly popular serial in 2004. Reports the paper, the first page of the manuscript was signed and dated by Hussein himself—March 18, 2003—the very day of the American invasion.
But Saddam is no newcomer to the literary realm. His first book, Zabiba and the King (2001), recounts the story of a brave ruler, a woman named Zabiba (the Iraqi people) and a tyrant (America) who rapes Zabiba. It’s the kind of subtle symbolism that you really have to mull over. His second and third books, Walled Fortress (2001) and Men in the City (2002), also revolve around heroic, manly protagonists who defend against creeping infidels hailing from the outside. While the latter is explicitly an autobiographical work, it doesn’t take much to realize that the “hero” featured in all of those texts is loosely (or somewhat not loosely) based upon the fallen mustachioed despot himself.
What’s next? Saddam takes on the romance novella? Saddam signs a six figure book deal from his prison confines (and secures a foreword from Martha Stewart)? Indeed, with or without his impending literary fame, one thing is for certain: The statesman-cum-writer has certainly known better times.