Books: The Autumn of the Tyrant

The author of Schindler's List offers a novel about the horrors of life under a Saddam-like dictator

Saddam Hussein--Remember him? Thomas Keneally does. In The Tyrant's Novel (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday; 235 pages), Keneally has produced an Orwellian fable about an unnamed nation that is unmistakably Iraq, one ruled by a whimsical killer called Great Uncle. He likes Tommy Hilfiger cologne and fears germs so much that he obliges visitors, before they come near, to change into sterile surgeon's robes and submit to an anal probe. All the same, this is a clown with a cocked pistol in his belt, so sometimes the laughs come hard. When a pool tender at one of his many palaces lets the pH...

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