Universal Oddities

June 20, 2002

I never quite understood why the world didn’t stop revolving the day Saddam Hussein published a romance novel. In fact, I considered giving up humor altogether as a result. A romance novel? I can’t top that. Not in a million years.

And not only is it a romance novel, but it’s an “Iraqi” romance novel. And it’s written by “Saddam Hussein”. I think he’s immediately proven himself the most brilliant romance novelist ever by deftly satirizing (through the use of subtle irony) the fact that all romance novels and that entire genre are beyond worthless and simply a forum for vile anti-Western, Islamic fundamentalist propaganda.

When Love Comes To Baghdad; A Passion in the Iraqi Twilight; The Secret Passions of an Iraqi Dictator; Journal of an Iraqi Whore; He Arrived on a White Camel.There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done. Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung. Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game. It’s easy, bum bum, bum bum bum. All you need is Sarin, isopropyl methylphosphonofluoridate.

Just when I think I’ve got that man all figured out, he has to go and do something so touching it makes up for all those really bad things he’s done.

Like the time he invaded Kuwait, but then set the oil fields on fire as a testament to the enduring power of love.

Or like the time he used chemical weapons on his own people, but then showed up at my place with a bouquet of flowers. When he goes and does something like that, it’s just impossible to be angry with him.

As such, I’ve made it my mission to translate sections of Saddam Hussein’s romance novel Zabibah and the King [or, more accurately, Raisin and the King] for an English speaking audience who are in the unfortunate position of not being able to read it in the beauty of its original form.

Granted, Saddam Hussein is the ruler of Iraq, but the success of his debut novel and the rave reviews speak for themselves. Now that it has been adapted for the stage, I believe its popularity is unquestionable.

Warning! This translation contains plot spoilers!

A note on this translation: The reader must take into account that Arabic is a very versatile language, and thus very difficult to translate in places. I have attempted to stay as true to the original as possible, occasionally retaining a transliteration of the original Arabic expression where appropriate.

Foreward to first anniversary edition of Zabibah and the King

Has it been a year already? Hamzwahi! Let us be thankful. Another year to read Zabibah and the King once more.

The immense popularity of this immense novel has become a surprise to all of us who are here. Let us be thankful for the immense popularity and the immensity of this novel. Never before has a story of such love become a story in book form.

I speak as privileged to be writing this forward. Never before has privilege befallen one such as me to be writing on a novel such as this. Before anything, this story is a story telling of love and the power of love. And the power of a king and his people who love each other.

This explains the popularity of this book. Because people have love for books. And this is a book. And, as is said amongst the people: Hash’hzu mash d’biak.


Hamza Habuali
Ministry of Defense Relations

[Excerpts from book]

It was midnight, Zabibah’s favorite time of night. Dancing through moonlit beams of moonlight, she made her way to the haranashzizi.

“Oh King, how may we please you?” Zabibah inquired.

“A good subject must always obey the king,” the king responded to the inquiry. “A good subject will honor their king by being good, helping others, and bettering themselves. A good subject must endeavor to prepare their mind for the good of the kingdom, working diligently at their studies, especially chemistry and biology. Very hard.”

* * * *

“Have you seen the king?”

“He’s never been in such high spirits.”

“Ever since my younger years, I’ve seen many dictators. From Libyah to Kwu’wait; it’s certain I’ve seen all manner of dictator. But I’ve never seen anything like our king in any illustrious region. That splendid, modest King of Kwiraq certainly plays excellent pinball.”

“How does he do it?”

“Don’t ask me.”

“What makes him so spectacular?”

“He simply concentrates very, very well.”

“How can he manage to play pinball so effectively while running the country so efficiently?”

“I do not know. But you know what the people say: ‘Hash’hzu mash d’biak.’”

* * * *

“Now, because of the king, each household has an average of one doorway per household. The king would not sleep until this was so.”

“One doorway per household! Without that doorway, we would all be forever trapped in our houses!”

“Yes, how spectacular.”

“Long life to the King!”

* * * *

“I love Zabibah like I love my kingdom, in an analogous fashion.”

“Please elaborate king.”

“Zabibah is Kwiraq, and her ‘womanhood’ is Kwu’wait. If the Ameri-assholes set foot in Zabibah’s womanhood, we will repel them.”

“So you will remove Ameri-asshole’s foot from Zabibah’s vagina!”

“Yes! No Ameri-asshole foot shall ever dwell in a Kwiraqi vagina!”


* * * *

“To arms!”

“Troops move!”

“Long live Zabibah’s vagina!”

And with that churlish battle cry a furly battle was met. Blood squirted in all manner of direction as the king waged war against his hellish, anus-like enemies. And as the king smote in every direction, a collective fart of pain was raised from within the ranks of these putrid invaders.

* * * *

And the Kwiraqi marching chant arose highly into the night sky:

From the walls of Zabibah’s uterus
To the region of her ovaries,
We will fight our kingdom’s baattles
With O-ethyl S-diisopropylaminomethyl methylphosphonothiolate {VX: CH3-P(=O)(-SCH2CH2N[CH(CH3)2]2)(-OC2H5)} and with hashish.

* * * *

The King stood boldly within the radiation chamber, staring at his love Zabibah.

“My King!”

“No!” the doctor implored, “the radiation is too severe! You cannot enter that room!”

The King leaned against the room’s window, slowly sliding down on its side, staring outward at Zabibah. Sad, emotional music slowly emanated from the room.

“No Zabibah, this is necessary,” said the King. “In the order to save every child in Kwiraq, it was necessary for the warp core to be repaired... (cough) The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few... (slipping down the window)... and never forget that the love you take, (cough)... is equal to the love you take... (slipping further down the window)... I am, and always shall be, your King.”

And with that, the King was dead... 46 years later.

People: uuuh aaahh, AAAhhh AAAHHH AAAHHH...

Zabibah was a fairly nice girl, but she doesn’t have very much to say
bum bum bum bum
Zabibah was a fairly nice girl, but every day she changed;
I would have liked to know her but I was simply a child,
Haznashi’ycham Migyoodyah F’lhowek.

The Finish of the Story

All excerpts reprinted by permission of the Kwiraqi government, except for these.

No unauthorized duplication of this translation is to be made without the express written permission of its translator. Unless it’s Saddam Hussein himself, who will simply steal the translation and sell it. Nothing I can do about it, but as long as he credits me for the translation, I’m good as gold.




Copyright © 2000-2002 Jacques. All rights reserved.