Few may realise that the leader of Turkmenistan a man who once renamed bread after his own mother wrote his own holy book, which is required reading before taking a driving test.
It is a book of such time-quaking importance that the month of September was renamed in its honour. Countless historians have dedicated decades of their lives to minutely detailing the atrocities perpetrated by the twentieth century 's most notorious dictators. And yet one area of tyrannical infamy has been shockingly neglected these men 's crimes against literature.
Between them, they produced theoretical works, spiritual manifestos, poetry collections, memoirs and even the occasional romance novel, establishing a literary tradition of soul-crushing tedium that continues to this day. What do these books reveal about the dictatorial soul? How did the production of literature become central to the running of their regimes?
A journey to the end of the literary night, combining mind-bending explorations of the avant-garde of boredom with history, politics and biography and leavened with a darkly humorous wit, Dictator Literature is the true story of the worst books in the world.
About the Author
Daniel Kalder is the author of Lost Cosmonaut and Strange Telescopes. He is also a journalist who has contributed to Esquire, the Guardian, The Times, the Dallas Morning News and many other publications. Originally from Fife, Scotland, he lived in Moscow for ten years and currently resides in Central Texas.
`Kalder's book is an informative, lively and often hilarious account of some of the worst authors who ever lived, doubling as a history of the terrible ideologies that marred the last century. Some execrable books have come out of communism and fascism, but Dictator Literature is certainly not one of them.' * Catholic Herald *
`A engaging, brisk, and morbidly humorous haul of the lives and literary pretensions of the murderous wingnuts who defined a century.' * Irish Times *
`Highly readable.' * Herald *
`Very funny...After reading Dictator Literature you will never look at books with such a benevolent eye again.' * Spectator *
`I enjoyed this book a great deal . . . it's actually a rather snappy read.' * Will Self, Guardian *
`A fascinating study...partly an enjoyable romp but mostly a sombre sidelong-glance history of 20th-century totalitarianism.' * Sunday Telegraph *
`Brisk, and full of antic fun.' * New Statesman *
`Hugely compelling...Like coming across a planet-sized car crash, with hundreds of millions snarled up in the wreckage: you can't look away. Kalder has really dug deep into the minds of these infernal texts' creators, and thus delivers some truly enlightening insights.' * Irish Independent *
`Kalder is our cheeky and irreverent guide to the (generally aggressively tedious) prose by history's despots.' * Tatler *
`Full of...wonders, and startling individual facts...An overwhelmingly powerful reminder of 20th-century misrule, and of just how delusional human beings can be - especially if they're literate.' * Telegraph *
`Daniel Kalder...deserves a medal...Dictator Literature is a great book...An insightful book, but also a funny one.' * Times *
`This is about the most discomforting book I've read in the past year. Never mind Trump and never mind Twitter: Kalder demonstrates that words themselves, and the escapist spells we weave with them, are our riskiest civic gift.' -- Simon Ings, author of Stalin and the Scientists
`A compelling examination of why bad minds create bad writing, and therefore a valuable read for anyone interested in literature - or the world, in fact. Kalder's dry humour makes Dictator Literature a fun tour de force through the mad history of the 20th century and the present.' -- Norman Ohler, author of Blitzed