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Wednesday, 20 March, 2002, 17:40 GMT
Saddam 'pens two more novels'
Saddam Hussein
Saddam has not confirmed he has turned to writing
Two novels soon to be published in Iraq are thought to have been penned by President Saddam Hussein.

Newspapers in the capital Baghdad did not mention him by name but hinted the two forthcoming books were his work.

It is believed Saddam Hussein has published two novels anonymously already.

These books were released under the title "A novel by its author".

The two books now causing a ripple of excitement go under the same pseudonym, according to the official Iraqi news agency INA, but no other details have been released.

The first two mysterious novels, Zabibah wal Malik and al-Qala'ah al-Hasinah, unsurprisingly received wide praise in Iraq amid heavy promotion.

One reviewer called al-Qala'ah al-Hasinahan - The Fortified Castle - an "innovation which nobody has managed to achieve during the past century".

Open talks

The story is about a militant hero of the Iraq-Iran and Gulf wars who manages to escape from Iranian jail and return to Baghdad to study.

As well as having a political message, the book is also a romance after the protagonist falls for a Kurdish girl who has fled from northern Iraq.

The area has been out of Saddam Hussein's control since the Gulf War but he has recently urged Kurdish officials to open talks with his government.

The book also features scenes of US and British warplanes bombing Iraq's military targets in the north of the country.

There is also a sub-plot about a servant betraying his master by attempting to kill him and escaping with his sister and animals.

But the master takes revenge by killing them both.

Critics have seen this as a veiled reference to Iraq's feelings that it was betrayed by Kuwait, which it accused of stealing its oil before invading in 1990.

The novel thought to be Saddam Hussein's debut, Zabibah wal Malik (Zabibah and the King), told the story of a king who falls in love with a poor, married woman.

See also:

20 Dec 01 | Arts
Saddam 'second novel' in print
04 Jan 01 | Middle East
Saddam Hussein profile
29 May 01 | Middle East
Saddam accused of stealing artwork
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