Saddam City

by Saeed, Mahmoud

One morning Mustafa Ali Noman, a teacher in Baghdad, is arrested as he reaches the school gates. For the next 15 months he is brutally interrogated, shuttles from prison to prison and barred from contacting his family. The question of guilt or innocence clearly irrelevant, Mustafa must fight to retain a grip on reality. ‘How do I know that I am not dreaming this?’ he asks. Mahmoud Saeed’s devastating novel evokes the works of Kafka, Solzhenitsyn and Elie Wiesel in its account of the wanton and brutal treatment of the Iraqi people by Saddam Hussein’s feared secret police. Narrated in a straightforward manner that makes it all the more vivid,the story testifies to the brutal arbitrariness of life under tyranny.