Saddam Hussein: Romance Novelist

The 2000 romance novel Zabibah and the King was published anonymously by which author?

And the answer is: Saddam Hussein.

The late President of Iraq wrote four novels and a number of poems. The first two books were Zabibah and the King and The Fortified Castle, and were published anonymously.

The original cover of Zabibah and the King. (Credit: Eloff777, Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Zabibah and the King is a nearly 200-page novel that deals in an allegorical romance between an Iraqi king and a villager named Zabibah. Though the narrative takes place in the distant past, it is clear that Hussein intended the character of the king to represent himself. The novel covers a series of long conversations on politics, free will and a number of other issues, though it lacks a real plot or direction. The novel was well-received in Iraq but a 2011 Guardian article describes the Zabibah-King relationship as "a tortuously extended metaphor."

Regardless of its reception, Zabibah and the King is a select cut from the elite literature genre known as "dictator lit."  The book is now currently available on Amazon. Read if you dare.

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