Saddam loves to sell his story

IRAQ. SADDAM Hussein's latest best-selling novel will become part of the Iraqi school curriculum next autumn, according to the country's education ministry.

Conscientious Iraqi pupils, keen to get to grips with next year's set texts, can look forward to summer holidays spent reading Zabibah and the King.

The allegorical love story recounts the king's relationship with the beautiful heroine, Zabibah. In a narrative heavy with symbolism, Zabibah is raped then killed on January 17 - the anniversary of Operation Desert Storm.

The Iraqi president has stopped short of claiming authorship of the novel. The enigmatically-worded cover says only that the book has been written "by its author".

But Iraqi intellectuals are convinced the work is that of the president. "It has all the hallmarks of his convoluted and bombastic speeches," said one Iraqi exile in Cyprus who has studied the novel.

Two years ago, Saddam Hussein announced his intention to start writing fiction in order to reach out to the country's youth. "The influencing power of literature is greater than direct thought," he said.

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