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  • Welcome to ALT Magazine & Press: Hazawi Prize Announces 2023 Shortlist: (Sana'a, Yemen) - The shortlist for the 2023 Hazawi Prize for Yemeni Literature has been revealed, announcing the ten writers who have been selected as finalists for this prestigious award.
  • Now in its second yearly round, the Hazawi Prize recognizes exceptional contributions to fiction in Yemeni literature. Organized by the Hazawi Cultural Foundation, this annual prize aims to promote Yemeni literature and support creative writers.
  • This year's shortlist features both emerging and renowned Yemeni authors. The ten works advancing to the final round of judging are:
  • - Abdullah Faisal shortlisted for his novel, Spirits and Secrets.
  • - Aisha Saleh shortlisted for her novel, Under the Ashes
  • - Farouk Merish shortlisted for his novel, A Dignified Stranger
  • - Ahmed Ashraf shortlisted for his novel, A Painful Belt
  • - Ghassan Khalid shortlisted for his novel, A Sky that Rains Fear
  • - Hosam Adel shortlisted for his novel, The Lord of the Black Dog
  • - Asmaa Abdulrazak shortlisted for her novel, Shrapnels
  • - Abdullah Abdu Muhammad shortlisted for his novel, The Road to Sana'a
  • - Najah Bahkeim shortlisted for her novel, The Final Decision
  • - Samir AbdulFattah shortlisted for her novel, What We Cannot See
  • The winner will be revealed at an award ceremony in Sana'a later where they will receive $1,500 USD. Second and third prizes of $1,000 USD each will also be awarded. All shortlisted works are celebrated for chronicling Yemen's rich culture and wartime experiences. This prestigious prize continues highlighting the nation's thriving literary community.

A Critical Review on Al-Maziji’s Burnings 6×4 – by Hatem Al-Shamea


Eman Al-Maziji is a contemporary Yemeni writer and author of a collection of flash fiction entitled, “ Burnings 6×4“, she demonstrates nuanced storytelling within a minimalist form. Through symbolic motifs and psychological depth, Al-Maziji conveys profound insights into the human condition within a brief span. This analysis will examine prominent themes across six representative stories, critiquing narrative style and exploring deeper meanings.



The opening story sets a ominous tone. On the line “its sea was dyed red” (p.1), sea functions as a metaphor for the nation torn apart by conflict. This metaphor is reinforced through the appearance of “the people of Cain” (p.1), invoking the biblical fratricide as an allegory for societal breakdown.

Throughout, verses function as chapter breaks that deepen symbolic meanings. For example, “Incapable of covering the brothers for crowdedness of graves” introduces the dehumanization of mass burial. As in Garcia Marquez’s “Massacre”, the individuation of grief is stripped away. This cruel reality is juxtaposed by “the wolf tries to escape before being accused of a crime” (p.1), drawing parallels between natural instincts of survival and the trappings of accusation within a dysfunctional system. Through subtle symbolism, “Brothers” critiques loss of justice and humanity.



This piece highlights memory and perception as core aspects of the human condition. The narrator turns to a cherished memory, “I would plunge deep into her eyes” (p.2), offering intimacy and confession. However, present fractures shake nostalgia – “I quit this habit when the photo frame shattered” (p.2).

As in Carver’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”, surfaces belie deeper fracture. Through this rupture, Al-Maziji probes how memory shapes and is shaped by reality. As the frame breaks, so too do fixed perceptions of the past. In minimal space, this story resonates by dramatizing the fluid, reconstructive nature of memory and experience.



Fantasy and reality merge in this vignette. The narrator responds to a child’s “obstinance” through an “airplane” metaphor (p.2), substituting imagination for stern discipline. This tactic reframes boundary-testing behavior in a spirit of indulgence and playfulness.

At the same time, the narrator’s interpretation of the child’s demanor as “obstinance” suggests imposing one’s own perceptions. Throughout, Al-Maziji toys with dualities of innocence and experience, control and surrender, subtly hinting how projection shapes understanding across generations. This non-judgemental approach captures not only the story’s spiritual tenderness, but the universal difficulties of comprehending another’s inner world.



In brief verses, this piece layers deep resonance. A former bond is recalled through a purchased military uniform, signifying care and understanding across difference. Today, only “deep contemplation” of the past remains (p.3). Without context around the broken connection, the reader is left to contemplate what transformed intimacy into distance, absence into memory.

Through economy, Al-Maziji demands participation, trusting the reader to find deeper significance. This approach echoes Hemingway, elevating subtle implications over direct commentary. Finally, the writer haunts by leaving interpretation open, a testament to the author’s trust in the reader and faith in nuanced storytelling.


This story delves deepest into themes of memory, loss and the slipperiness of “truth”. The unreliable narrator tells their child the other has “died”, yet this assertion unravels as the child “grows up” believing in a ghostly grave (p.3). Once more, fixed concepts dissolve – if death is a construct of language rather than essence, what else becomes fluid?

At a meta-level, Al-Maziji invites scrutiny of storytelling itself. Narratives offer comfort yet obscure reality’s messiness. Ultimately, this unresolved tale shatters illusion, prioritizing life’s mysteries over facile explanations. In subtly unraveling perception, “Prayer” resonates with Borges’ circular “Funes the Memorious”.



This concluding vignette layers politics within the personal. What was is recalled against what is, as mill sounds disappear and a space for discussion shrinks. Al-Maziji filters societal ‘repression’ through everyday filtering, loss of voice chief among repression’s quotidian manifestations.

At the same time, what endures – the mill itself? This ambiguity echoes throughout – does order emerge from upheaval, or does chaos ultimately prevail? By posing questions largely thananswers, Al-Maziji challenges ideologies through intimate portraiture, prioritizing complexity over facile diagnoses. Ultimately, she asserts life’s resilience above all.



Across brief verses, Al-Maziji excavates profound existential questions with economy and subtlety. She blurs lines between dream and reality to explore memory, storytelling and the fluidity of concepts like death, justice, intimacy. Throughout, she treasures open-endedness above conclusions. At once minimalist and richly symbolic, Al-Maziji demands reader participation for highest impact. In short, she demonstrates short fiction’s potential for profundity within minimal frames, leaving impressions that linger long after the last period falls. Burnings 6×4 – flash fiction – by Eman Al-Maziji – translated by Hatem Al-Shamea

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