Monday, June 27

Gringos, Go Home

Jordan bans Saddam novel (Guardian Unlimited):
Critics judge it boring, but some in the Middle East consider Get Out of Here, Curse You!, the latest novel by Saddam Hussein, dangerous. The former Iraqi dictator is behind bars and stripped of power but Jordan was anxious enough to ban his tale yesterday, claiming it could damage regional relations. Some 10,000 copies had been printed for this week's launch, a literary and political event authorised by Saddam's daughter, Raghad, who is based in Jordan. Reportedly finished by Saddam on the eve of the US-led invasion in March 2003, it is the story of an Arab warrior who vanquishes a foreign intruder. Initially Jordan, a longstanding Washington ally which has had tetchy relations with Baghdad, approved publication. But censors changed their mind after a local newspaper flagged the imminent arrival in bookshops of a novel whose title can also be translated as 'Damned one, get out of here'. 'Publishing this novel will harm the Iraqi-Jordanian relationship and we are keen to have the best relations with Iraq,' said Ahmad al-Qudah, head of the government's press and publications department. 'Jordan will not approve its publication. If they want to publish it they have to do it abroad.' The book, Saddam's fourth, relates how a heroic tribesman foils a Jewish and Christian plot to take over his town. It was published in Iraq as 'by its author'. In a foreword to the new edition, Raghad Hussein confirms her father's authorship.

"He who wrote, wrote it." Some of this appeared in the Az-Zaman newspaper right after the war, I translated the passages. Saddam apparently thought of himself as a kind of kitschy philosopher-king. His heroes are always kind of hen-pecked, apparently. THE summer read, if you can get your hands on it and learn Arabic very quickly.


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