Saddam City by Mahmoud SaeedSaddam City is a slim but powerful work. Set in 1979, it follows the bewildering journey of Mustafa Ali Noman through Iraq’s Saddam-era jail system. Noman (the name is intentionally informative) is arrested but not told why before being transported from city to city and jail to jail. In each jail he meets a variety of prisoners, guards and torturers, and through their stories, attempts to draw a picture of the brutality of life in Iraq under Saddam.
I liked Saddam City a lot. The author spent time in jails on six occassions, and has clearly drawn on his experience. He captures the absurdity of the prisoner’s stories very well, documenting ‘crimes’ such as having a relative abroad or commenting on the leader in public. The narration is straightforward, without embellishment, lending it a similar tone to One Day in the life of Ivan Denisovich, which made it both mundane and powerful. Despite the subject matter (torture, execution, etc.) it is the sheer absurdity of the men’s situation that shines through, giving the book an almost surreal edge, in spite of the down to earth telling of the story. All in all, this was disturbing yet readable look at the security apparatus of Saddam’s Iraq seen from the inside.

Edited in Library thing site: Apr 16, 2008, 8:54am

About mahmoudsaeediraq

I am an Iraqi writer. I came to the USA in 1999, and I got politic asylum. Since that time I am living in Chicago, Illinois. I have written more than 20 novels and short story collections and hundreds of articles. Some of my novels were destroyed by Iraqi regimes. I have won awards in Iraq, Egypt and the United States. I also have won awards for short stories, one in Iraq and the second in UAE. I worked in Iraq as a high school teacher teaching Arabic literature. I was imprisoned six times between 1959 and 1980. I was dismissed from my job for three years, so I went to Morocco and I worked there as a high school teacher. I wrote about last time in prison as novel titled, "I am the one who saw." This novel was translated to English by Dr. Sadri (a professor of Lake Frost University) and published in Al Saqi house publishing company in London by the name of "Saddam City." The New York Public Libraries listed my novel as one of the best novels of the last century. Amnesty international chose 37 writers from all over the world, including me, to celebrate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We wrote short stories, and the collection was published in London, USA, Canada, Spain, and Turkey. It was translated in more than 20 languages. MAHMOUD SAEED, Chicago, Illinois
This entry was posted in مقالات نقدية بالإنكليزية عن أعمال محمود سعيد - Reviews in English About Mahmoud's Works. Bookmark the permalink.

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