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Sacha Baron Cohen to Star in Adaptation of Saddam Hussein’s Romance Novel

Golden Globe-winner Sacha Baron Cohen (pictured, via) will star in an adaptation of Zabibah and the King, a novel that may have been written by Saddam Hussein. The film will be called The Dictator, and release is set for May 2012.

The book spotlights Zabibah, an Iraqi peasant in an abusive marriage who falls in love with the country’s head monarch. The Guardian explained: “It was intended to be read as an allegory for Iraq in the years following the first Gulf war, with the king representing Saddam, Zabibah embodying the Iraqi people and her husband standing in for the cruel and evil US forces.”

There is some debate about whether or not Hussein actually wrote the book. According to a New York Times article, the  C.I.A. believes that ghostwriters wrote it–directed by the late Iraqi leader.

One Canadian artist believes the book’s cover used one of his oil paintings without authorization. As you can see at this site, it appears that Jonathon Earl Bowser‘s ”The Awakening” was used on the cover.  In 2004, Virtualbookworm.com Publishing released an English translation of the novel.

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