A Land without Jasmine
An Occult Tale of Sexuality in Yemen... The 82-page novella touches on several themes that have put Ahdal’s life on the line in the past. Namely, involving sex. His 2002 novel Mountain Boats was banned in Yemen for what the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram described as using “Quranic expressions in describing sexual scenes.” He fled to Lebanon and didn’t return to Yemen until 2010 when he was guaranteed protection by the president.Leah Caldwell , Al-Akhbar English
Wajdi Al-Ahdal has written a surreal detective story that is both lucid and spare, yet strips away the deceits of Arab life – and satirises illogical attitudes. It brings to mind the writing style of Haruki Murakami and his 'Kafka on the Shore'... Anyone seeking an insight into life in Arab culture should read this. It is not comfortable reading, but it is powerful, poignant writing at it’s best and the only shame is that this is so briefly told.Sam Hawksmoor, Hackwriters
We are delighted that Wajdi al-Ahdal’s short, powerful novel A Land Without Jasmine has been co-awarded the 2013 Saif Ghobash Banipal Arabic Literary Translation Prize. This book is in a category all its own, fusing together elements of police procedural, myth, fable, psychological thriller and scathing social critique. It is frank and disturbing, and has surprised many Western readers for whom Yemen is a complete cipher or otherwise misrepresented completely. The narrative’s many layers have been rendered into fluid, riveting contemporary English by William Hutchins, who richly deserves this prestigious honour.Mitchell Albert, Garnet Publishing
Joint winner of the 2013 Saif Ghobash Banipal Arabic Literary Translation Prize
An intriguing fiction from Yemen: A Land without Jasmine is a sexy, satirical detective story about the sudden disappearance of a young female student from Yemen’s Sanaa University. Each chapter is narrated by a different character beginning with Jasmine herself. The mystery surrounding her disappearance comes into clearer focus with each self-serving and idiosyncratic account provided by an acquaintance, family member, or detective.
As the details surrounding her sudden disappearance emerge the mystery deepens. Sexual depravity, honour, obsession; the motives are numerous and the suspects plentiful. It seems that everyone wants a piece of the charming young student. Family, friends, fellow students and nosey neighbours are quick to make their own judgements on the case, but the truth may be far stranger than anyone anticipates.
This short novel has echoes of both the Sherlock Holmes stories and The Catcher in the Rye, as in addition to the mystery and a murder, the novel contains candid discussions of coming of age in a land of sexual repression. Wajdi al-Ahdal is a satirical author with a fresh and provocative voice and an excellent eye for telling the details of his world.
This stunning novel brings to life the enthralling world of
‘Today she must lose her virginity, mark five hundred papers, slap Samy sou...
This short but ...