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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.

Behind the Walls of Memory – Suhair Assamman – trans. Hatem Al-Shamea

Behind the Walls of Memory

The fifty-year-old woman enters the room, holds a glass of milk in her hand, and says: How are you this morning, my son? Still looking at the picture, as usual!…
-I am trying to recall how and when this memory appeared and disappeared behind the ticking of the clock. I have been searching through my mental faculties to find it, examining my face in the mirror. My eyes have been scanning widely; I have been feeling a strange confusion emanating from my perplexed sense of the things around me, yet I have been endeavoring to grab hold of the fleeting moments. The clock hands seem to be penetrating my skull, possibly able to recover what has been concealed in my neural pathways, or to revive the last struggle I experienced! I have been trying in vain to inhabit my body again; all is empty except for my head. Finally, my vision has remembered a glimpse of the only image on the wall, a reminder that I have been here before, demonstrating that I exist. To uncover the history that has been documented, I have been shaking the photo. Time has ceased, taking a timeless photograph.
“Do not worry, my son,” the mother assured him. “You will remember everything. Now drink this milk.”
Khaled looked up at her, his expression one of confusion. “You told me that you are my mother, and I am Khaled,” he said. “Can I watch any of those marches and demonstrations I had always been in, from the first day we went out?”

The mother shook her head. “The pain and headache will return, and you will not watch it the same as it happens to you every time!” she said. “I suggest that you try to watch it from the media record.”

Khaled nodded and closed his eyes, gathering his strength and hope for remembrance, and the scenes were screened before his eyes—the marches and demonstrations that had been occurring since the beginning of the protests, the voices that were loudly rising and demanding the regime to leave, all those bodies that were gathered firmly and the hands intertwined with performing one chant, the tear gas and armored vehicles that blocked their way and the hot water that was sprinkled over them to disperse the crowds. The End.
Since the start of marches, sit-ins, and vocal protests demanding the current regime to step down, the media has been broadcasting these events. People are standing together, holding hands, and chanting in unison. Despite the presence of tear gas, armored vehicles, and water cannons, the protesters are undeterred.
His brain cells quivered as he tried to piece together the events: it was Friday of Dignity, and smoke was rising from behind a wall in the square. The crowd moved towards the thickening veil of smoke, and the sound of bullets pierced the air, taking the lives of those around him. Through the smoke, masked people were visible on the rooftops of houses, aiming their guns at the young men. Suddenly, one of them was struck in the head, causing him to scream hysterically as his mother embraced him and he wept in her lap.

He turned to his mother, who had entered the room, and asked, “What is it, Mom? What happened?”
She replied reassuringly, “It is our destiny. The day will come when we shall remember. But for now, it would be best if you could forget.”
He awoke early, put on his clothes, and left his house, thinking of the square that he had seen burning during the events of the past. After crossing the street, he asked a passerby where he could catch a bus to the square in question. Upon arriving, the streets were filled with banners proclaiming “With national dialogue, we can build a better future for Yemen” and the walls of some of the houses had posters and drawings of missing persons, with their names and the date of their disappearance. He pondered why he thought he might find a drawing of himself on one of those walls, as he too was now missing.
The bus stopped in front of a wall, prompting the observer to consider the purpose of this structure. Was it meant to document a new history, one that could not be recorded in books, or was it in mourning for those who had been forgotten, those who had lost their lives in Al-Urdhi hospital? Everywhere he looked there were images of martyrs, pasted on cars and walls. He felt all of this needed an explanation.
Why are there martyrs in every street and place? What did they die for?
You’re from Yemen, right? Don’t you know?
Yes, but I lost my memory.
That’s surprising. How did you lose it?
They said I had an accident during the popular demonstrations.
Do you not remember anything at all of what you asked about?
No, I cannot recall.
Oh, my goodness! These are all victims of the revolution that occurred three years ago and its aftermath, which included assassinations and terrorist attacks. I am one of the victims as well. Now I am here, and a new era is beginning for me. It is best for you, at least, not to mourn the revolution that you started. Aren’t you a revolutionist like the others? No, I was just an observer.
The bus arrived at the square that had been occupied by revolutionaries. He descended to the expansive courtyard which still contained a few of the revolutionaries’ tents, and he felt a lump in his throat as the smell of the area flooded his senses, causing a strange headache to develop. Despite this, he continued on, noticing green posters and slogans that read “Death to America.. Death to Israel”. He stood and pondered, questioning whether the revolution was being waged against America and Israel, or if it was against the corrupt system.
He arrived at the stage, feeling even more overwhelmed as old memories flooded his mind. The microphones amplified the powerful chants, as hands interlocked in solidarity. Suddenly, his body gave out and he closed his eyes, trying to focus on the details around him. He felt a hand on his shoulder and felt people walking alongside him towards the wall of smoke billowing in the air. Young men were rushing towards it, only to be met by sniper fire from the surrounding rooftops. They were desperate to find out who was shooting at them with such ferocity.
He felt his body fall from the building and the echoes of voices fading away. Tears streamed from his eyes as he saw the remains of what had been there before. Dropping to his knees, he looked up at the monument erected in its place and saw the pictures of martyrs, including his own. In shock, he was frozen in time. He then noticed a crowd of families of the martyrs calling for their rights to be fulfilled and retribution taken against the murderers. Among them was his mother, carrying his picture and weeping with a broken heart. He desperately tried to reach her, to tell her that he was with his friends in his homeland, yet he could not, as even the land of his birth had been martyred. Through his tears, he screamed out,
“Mother, raise the picture of the martyred homeland!”

The Gravedigger – Sameer Abdelfattah – trans. Hatem Al-Shamea

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