Dictators often come wrapped in lofty literary pretensions, it seems. And you thought the novel was dead.
Suzanne Murkelson has a terrific piece in Foreign Policy about the literary lives of dictators. She was disciplined enough to avoid the term tortured prose. But I’m not.
Murkelson notes that it was the late Turkmen autocrat Saparmurat Niyazov who blurbed his own work:
A person that reads Ruhnama becomes smart … and after it, he will go to heaven…
What writer wouldn’t love such an Amazon review? The gift of intelligence in this life, the promise of eternal happiness in the afterlife? I wonder what you get if you reread it?
Muammar al-Qaddafi wrote a children’s story called “The Astronaut’s Suicide” about an American space explorer who ends it all after he returns to Earth and discovers he’s lost his job due to budget cuts. Goodnight, Moon. One hopes he at least read Niyazov.