Now, nearly 10 years after his death, British publishing house Hesperus announced that it will translate and release his novella, which has been described as a mix between “Game of Thrones” and the British version of “House of Cards,” to Western audiences in December 2016 — right in time for Christmas, the Guardian reports.
The novella, reportedly set near the Euphrates river, tells the tale of an ancient tribal society that successfully ousts foreign invaders. Some chapters in the book are titled “The Foreigner Who Sold the Tribes” and “Retaliatory Tactics,”according to a 2006 article by The Washington Post.
The story (which can be read here in Arabic) tells the tale of a man named Ezekiel, an evil invader who wants to overthrow the leader of the tribe but is defeated by unlikely heroes: the leader’s daughter and an Arab warrior. Some of the names of the characters in the book — Ezekiel, Abraham, Mahmoud and Yousef — are thought to be metaphors for a “Zionist-Christian plot against Arabs and Muslims,” the New York Times reported back in 2005.
The independent publisher has yet to title the book, but previous translations in other languages, such as Japanese and Turkish, include titles such as “Begone Devils,” “Get Out, You Damned One” and “Devil’s Dance.”
Saddam Hussein was hanged in the predawn hours of Dec. 30, 2006, for crimes against humanity in the mass murder of Shiite men and boys in the 1980s. He had spent nine months on the run before being captured in December 2003, hiding in a hole near his hometown of Tikrit.
Despite the fall of Hussein’s regime, the book survived throughout the years because Hussein’s daughter, Raghdad, brought the original manuscript with her to Jordan in 2003, where she is currently exiled. She tried publishing the 186-page novel there in 2005, but Jordan’s press and publications department quickly banned the book, setting off a debate over the dictator’s legacy. However, there proved to be a large audience for it and numerous bootleg version were reportedly sold in the black market.
Hussein was credited with writing three other novels during his time as Iraq’s leader under the pseudonym “the Author,” but some people are hesitant to believe that he wrote them himself, and say it’s more likely they were written by people who worked for him and that he supervised the process.
One of his novels, titled “Zabibah wal Malik,” or “Zabibah and the King,” was published three years before the Iraq War and became a bestseller in Iraq. It also bore striking similarities that reflected the political climate of that time. Zabibah was said to represent Iraqis and her rapist husband symbolized the United States, according to the Guardian. The CIA took notice of this book, and officials pounced on the opportunity to analyze it for potential clues inside the leader’s mind, according to a 2001 article by the New York Times.
The recent announcement that Hussein’s novel will be translated and sold in the English speaking world isn’t surprising. With the release last week of the Chilcot Report, a voluminous and scathing critique of Britain’s participation in the invasion of Iraq, the dead dictator got another moment in the spotlight.