Mahmoud Saeed published his first novel in 1963. The Ba’ath party took power in Iraq through a military coop one week later. Saddam Hussein was a 25-yar-old working up the ranks of the party at the time. Saeed was arrested a week after that and remained in prison for a year. The rest of his life he would spend in and out of jail, hiding manuscripts and fleeing his home country to avoid persecution.
Saeed is now 73, living in Lakeview. He appears to be in good physical shape considering his history of torture and imprisonment.
In the world through the Eyes of Angels is seed’s recently published novel about a difficult but good life set in the 40s and 50s of Mosul, Iraq. Portions of this book and Saddam City (2004), his semi-autobiographical novel about an imprisoned Iraqi teacher, were read to an audience at Columbia College on the evening of February 16. The reading was followed by a Q-and-A led by Mary Schmich, who reported on Saeed for the Chicago Tribune in September 2011.
“They want you to write what they thing,” Saeed said about Arab governments’ attempts to censor his work and to get him to write for suppressive national causer. The original text of Saddam City had two chapters deleted in Syria before it was allowed to be published.