Wajdi Muhammad Abduh al-Ahdal
Wajdi Muhammad Abduh al-Ahdal is a novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter, and dramatist. Born in Yemen in 1973, he received a degree in literature from Sanaa University. He won the Afif prize for the short story in 1997, a gold medal for a dramatic text in the Festival for Arab Youth in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1998, and the youth prize of the President of the Republic of Yemen for the short story in 1999. Al-Ahdal was nominated for the Arab Booker Prize in 2008, and was selected by the Hay Festival at Frankfurt Book Fair in October 2009 for the Beirut39 anthology of works by the thirty-nine most important Arab authors under forty.
He has published several collections of short stories: Zahrat al-Abir (The Passerby’s Flower, Sanaa, 1997), Suratal-Battal (Portrait of an Unemployed Man, Amman, 1998), Ratanat al-Zaman al-Miqmaq (Gibberish in a Time of Ventriloquism, Sanaa, 1998), and Harb lam Ya‘alam bi-Wuqu‘iha Ahad (A War No One Knew About, Sanaa, 2001). His novels are: Qawarib Jabaliya (Mountain Boats, Beirut, 2002), Himar Bayna al-Aghani (A Donkey in the Choir, Beirut 2004), Faylasuf al-Kurantina (Quarantine Philosopher, Sanaa, 2007), and Bilad bila Sama’ (A Land Without Sama’[or a Sky], alias A Land Without Jasmine, Sanaa, 2008). His screenplay al-Ughniya al-Mashura (The Enchanted Song was published in Sanaa in 2006, and his play al-Suqut min Shurfat al-‘Alam (Falling off the Balcony of the World) was published in Sanaa in 2007.
Mountain Boats proved controversial. An extremist campaign against the book drove him into exile, and the book’s publisher faced charges. When the German Nobel Laureate Günter Grass visited Yemen for a cultural conference in December 2002, he was received by the Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, whom he asked to help al-Ahdal; al-Ahdal was then allowed to return to Yemen. A Donkey in the Choir is dedicated to Günter Grass. He is currently employed in Dar al-Kutub, the National Library in Sanaa.