Exile on Main Street
Iraqi schoolteacher and novelist Mahmoud Saeed, arrested numerous times by former dictator Saddam Hussein, recalls the harrowing months he spent in prison in his book, Saddam City.
Translated into English by Lake Forest College sociology professor Ahmad Sadri, Saddam Citywas penned in the early 1980s as a “condemnation of all dictators and all tyrants wherever they are.”
Saeed’s novel depicts the fear and despair of Baghdad schoolteacher Mustafa Ali Noman as he is shuttled from prison to prison. The senselessness of his arrest and the torture he and other prisoners endure drive Mustafa to see Hussein’s Iraq as a place where “being free only meant one thing: imminent arrest.”
After fleeing Iraq in 1985, Saeed had to leave his family behind in the United Arab Emirates to live as a political refugee in the United States