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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 Cup of Coffee on the Edge of Chaos – Entesar Asseri

A Cup of Coffee on the Edge of Chaos” is a collection of short stories by renowned Yemeni writer Entesar Asseri that delves deeply into human emotions and experiences. Through a variety of short narratives, Asseri explores profound perspectives on life, love, and the complexities of the human psyche. Each story draws readers in with vivid portrayals of relationships, loss, longing, joy, and unexpected connections that resonate on an intimate level.

Asseri’s style of storytelling blends realism with symbolism. While the stories are grounded in realistic social and psychological details, she imbues them with deeper symbolic meanings that probe beneath surface realities to uncover deeper truths about human feelings and relationships. Stories like “Chance Encounter” and “Memory of a Father’s Death” explore themes of solitude, loss, and nostalgia through emotionally evocative language rich in imagery and metaphor. Other tales highlight social issues in Yemeni society such as challenges within family relationships and early marriage.

The nonlinear narrative structures of some stories are particularly striking. Asseri delves into depths of memory, flashing back to the past through characters’ recollections and reminiscences. This lends the stories an additional symbolic dimension and allows readers deeper insight into character development and motivations.

Asseri demonstrates a gift for using rich, lyrical language that lends the tales a refined literary quality. Her detailed descriptive passages, imaginative symbols, and comparisons bring human emotions into sharper focus for contemplation. While drawing on influences from writers like Margaret Atwood in her storytelling approach, she also incorporates distinctively Yemeni folkloric elements that give the stories local cultural depth.

The collection takes readers on a journey through diverse perspectives as each tale presents a unique view of life, love and the complexities of the human psyche. From poignant tales of loss and longing to unexpected moments of joy and connection, the stories resonate profoundly with readers.

Through her nuanced storytelling and arresting prose that stirs memory, “A Cup of Coffee on the Edge of Chaos” navigates the intricate relationship between reality and imagination. It invites readers to question their perceptions of the world around them. Asseri’s acute observations and profound understanding of human nature come alive on the page, weaving a tapestry of emotions that captivate and endure.

Celebrating the power of narrative as a means to shape, interpret, and make sense of our existence, the collection reminds us of humanity’s basic need for stories that nourish our souls—just as food and water sustain our bodies. As readers delve into its pages, they embark on a journey through the winding streets of old Sana’a, where the scent of coffee blends with the essence of history.

Asseri’s deft exploration of the human experience and depiction of the intricate intertwining of emotions through her elegant prose leaves an indelible impression. Her stories resonate long after they are read, reflecting the transformative power of literature and our evolving interpretations of it. With influences from celebrated authors like Atwood and Auster, “A Cup of Coffee on the Edge of Chaos” showcases Asseri’s brilliant ability to plumb life’s depths and chart the complex relationships that define our humanity. Her insightful portrayal of the human condition will no doubt continue to captivate readers and writers alike.

By/ Hatem Al-Shamea



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