Ten years after its author was executed for crimes against humanity, Saddam Hussein's book will receive an English translation. Finished before his capture in 2003, Hussein's novella is "a mix between Game of Thrones and the UK House of Cards-style fiction," according to publisher Hesperus, who plans to release the title later this year, to coincide with the anniversary of Hussein's execution.
Saddam Hussein was the President of Iraq from 1979 to 2003. His dictatorial reign was marked by political purges, genocide, and wars with both Iran and the U.S. When U.S. forces took Baghdad in 2003, Hussein went into hiding, but was later captured near his hometown of Tikrit. The interim Iraqi government tried Hussein for crimes against humanity. He was found guilty on November 6, 2006, and executed by hanging on December 30 of that year.
After Hussein's capture in 2003, his novella entered the literary underground. Al Sharq al Awsat, a daily newspaper, serialized the book in 2004. A Jordanian version was swiftly banned in 2005, only to circulate as bootlegged copies. Hussein's book has also been translated into Turkish and Japanese.
The novella is not the first book written by Hussein. While in power, the deposed Iraqi leader wrote three novels: Zabiba and the King, Walled Fortress, and Men of the City. Whether Hussein is the actual author of these titles remains unclear. From a 2005 article in The New York Times:
It has never been established whether Mr. Hussein is in fact the author of the books, or whether he secured a ghostwriter. But in the Arab world, where education and the ability to write prose are highly valued, the novels were meant to add to Mr. Hussein's image as a grand Arab leader and thinker. Now that he is in prison, the book appears to be an attempt to burnish that image.
Although the Times called Saddam Hussein's novella "a forgettable piece of pulp," it noted that the bootlegged version outsold his other books.
No one really seems to know what to call Hussein's last book. In Japan, it's known as Devil's Dance. Other versions are titled Begone Devils and Get Out, You Damned One. As of this writing, it's unclear what the title of the novella's English translation will be.
Hesperus will publish Saddam Hussein's book in December 2016.