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Articles tagged "Yemen"

Declining Freedom

Translator’s Note:  In Wajdi al-Ahdal’s novel Donkey in the Choir, Tha’ira, the rebellious wife of a Yemeni politician, has neglected work on her master’s degree since her marriage to Ali Jibran.  Morning excursions through Sanaa provide her some relief from the boredom of her sequestered life. Meanwhile a serial killer has moved into the Hulqum neighborhood of Sanaa. Once the killing spree begins, the subsequent police investigation quickly identifies a...


When my mother asked me to spend the summer in her brothers’ house in the south, I employed every sophistry of my sixteen years—an age when only a mother pays attention to your budding philosophy of life—to explain to her that life forces surge northward, that the south, from which she and my father came, was becoming obsolete, that Ibn Khaldun (who had inspired this claim) was a great man, that the money could be better spent on a vacation, and that her brothers were...


It’s August 2000, and I’m overwhelmed by this emotional leavetaking. It’s the first time you’ve ever dreaded visiting your grandfather al-Atawi, but it’s because you’re saying good-bye—before you depart for Baghdad. We never thought you would travel overseas and leave us. Sanaa is twenty-seven kilometers west of your grandfather’s village, Hisn Arfata. You have persuaded me that you can say good-bye to your grandfather without telling...

August 2011

An Open Letter to Mohamed Bouazizi

Dear Brother: I write these few lines to let you know we’re doing well, on the whole, though it varies from day to day: sometimes the wind changes, it rains lead, life bleeds from every pore. To tell the truth, I’m not quite sure where we stand; when you’re up to your neck in war, you can’t tell till the end whether to celebrate or mourn. And there it is, the crucial question: whether to follow or precede the others. The consequences aren’t the same. Some...

July 2011


from “Identity”

You who will murder me, wait. Look into my eyes before you begin—or end— It's the same for me. It might be that you reconsider. You, who are formed by remorse whose breath is the issue of accident, imbibing the world's desiccation, wait a moment! Now, this may be enough: to read the soft body tortured by your wrath, to look at the memories hidden in my eyes, the moon's stories. * * * You, who will murder me, I have hidden my identity in my eyes. My last wish is...

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