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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 novel by

Mohammed Al-Qasabi

translated by

Hatem Al-Shamea



He thrusts the door violently, jolting her awake with a surge of anxiety. She gazes at him in alarm, as if anticipating a momentous decision leaping from her eyes. A surprise overtakes her as his body collapses onto hers, his hands lunging for her mouth, blocking the path of a scream that has already failed to escape her throat. Fragments of inner turmoil leap from his eyes into hers. Despite her panic, her curious glances persist, trying to anticipate his next move. It appears that the unyielding grasp of his rough hands around her neck might signal the end, occasionally perceived as a fate she might somehow deserve.


Caught off guard, she is met with the contrasting gluttonous gaze flashing in his eyes. His lips aggressively assault hers, almost tearing them asunder, descending, dismantling the “veil” that separated him from his desires. He startles her with a question:


– How many times?!


Her words falter amid the torrents of tears streaming from her eyes.


– I swear, not even once!


He forcefully strips off her torn trousers with a shout:


– Even if a thousand times, he will never grant you what I offer, you harlot!


In supplication:


– I swear, I never exposed myself to anyone but you.

His nails embed themselves in her flesh, his sense of loss plunging into the abyss of her mystery. The oscillation of his descent and ascent quickens, tremors chasing each other as if they are evidence of her innocence. His rivers flow into her estuaries, enriching her with what she thought were the signs of a return to the pristine purity of her feelings toward him. Her fingers dig into his back, clinging to their fusion once again after months of rupture.


His determination to endure, after his masculinity has been exhausted in her floods, fertilizes the spaces of her soul with tranquillity. It’s an experience he had not even known in the virginity of marriage.


Not much time passes before the muscles of his masculinity relax. Her palms spread around his neck, drawing her lips close to his, perhaps a celebratory kiss for the extinguishing of the flames of his doubts. He gently moves them apart, extracting himself from this world torn apart by doubts about who last shared ownership with him.

She follows him in a dejected state that seeps with bitterness as he withdraws from the room. She is surprised to see him dressed to go out without entering the bathroom. She trails after him, fatigued and puzzled.


“Won’t you take a shower?” she asks.


His feet meander in the labyrinth of the streets. To where? He doesn’t know.




His memory was a volcano, erupting with lava of torment. What had happened that he would embrace her with such desire, when he had been separated from her for months by a chasm of doubt?


The doubt, which, if it ever approached the brink of certainty, quickly retreated without ever disappearing. It was not desire, but a diabolical desire to reaffirm that if there was any comparison in her deepest heart between him and another, then no other, no other, could match him in the virility of his manhood!


In his heart of hearts, he knew this: that, despite his virility in the bedroom, he was sometimes not so virile! But on that strange night, which had happened 25 years ago, his manhood was at its peak, yet that did not prevent her from moaning another name!


That night, he was shattered. He looked at her in amazement and asked her:




She begged in tears:


“I swear I don’t know.”


No one in their lives, no relative, no friend, no colleague, was named “Shawkat”!


Then he retreated from the bedroom to the living room, chewing on his defeat. His mind and memory raced, searching for this Shawkat! He failed, just as the pain of his brokenness failed to contain its flames within him. The heat of that distant night quickly faded! How could this happen? He was a son of a village, of a community, where if a man suffered such a catastrophe, his manhood would overflow with a firm decision to separate from her, if not to separate her from the world, and before he even left the bedroom! If he left his bed, he would pant in the streets, in the houses, in every footstep; searching for this one whose name she had moaned; to erase him from existence, and then head to the nearest police station; to tell them proudly what he had done!


A quarter of a century had passed, and his woman, even after weeks of that ominous night, the walls of memory had faded from her moaning with that bald man’s name! Was it his preoccupation with the problems that threatened to get him fired from work? Was it the damage to his spine in a car accident? At the time, he seemed to have lost hope that his feet would ever be able to take back the streets and roads. Even walking to the bathroom seemed impossible without a wheelchair!


The doctor confronts him:


“Your only option is to travel to Germany. There is a famous surgeon there who specializes in such operations. I have his phone number and address, if you want.”

He struggles to find a glimmer of hope:


“I saw a surgeon on TV talking about operations that are being done here.”


The doctor slaps him with the truth:


“If there was anyone in Egypt who could perform such an operation, it would be me, but it would be a gamble. The success rate is no more than 20%. It’s different in Germany!”


He asks in despair:


“How much does the operation cost in Germany, doctor?”


“A patient with a condition similar to yours spent about 100,000 pounds. That was a year ago.”


He screams inside:


“Where from?!”


He wanders around his bedroom, which has turned into a desert that only grows thorns of despair. His new boss at work doesn’t stop asking about him. He has visited him more than once, and always sends the driver to take him to the doctor, but for how long?


One day he will be fired, and he will be without an income. His son, whom he enrolled in a private school, how will he fulfil his school obligations? It will even be to buy a loaf of bread. He sold his two-acre inheritance from his father to buy an apartment on Merghani Street to be the marital home instead of the rented bachelor apartment in Shubra.

His worries, which had turned into soundproof walls, blocked out the sound of her approaching footsteps. In the morning, he was forced to shout at her angrily when she insisted on accompanying him to the doctor:


“It’s more important for you to attend Yassin’s Award Ceremony.”


“But you’re more important than me and Yassin.”


“All the parents will be there. Your son will be psychologically affected if he finds himself alone.”


She conceded, albeit with a heavy heart. Now, here she was, hurrying back just as the final honours were being announced at the top student awards ceremony. She was supposed to wait until the end of the school day to take Yassin.


“What did the doctor say?”


He couldn’t hold it in any longer; he told her the doctor’s advice.


She smiles, patting him on the back, teasing:


“You’re talking in despair instead of being happy!!”


“…happy!! One hundred thousand pounds is required for the cost of the operation! That’s if it’s at the same prices as last year, and there are also travel and accommodation costs!”


“Accommodation for two!”


He looks at her in question:


“I’ll be with you. You’ve travelled to more countries than I have. I’ve never left my village except for your apartment.”


She kisses his head and leaves, and he follows her with eyes full of questions.


She called her brother in the village, requesting him to sell one of the three acres she inherited from her father.


She told him what her brother said:


“Why should we give up our land to strangers? I’ll buy it myself!”

Within days, her brother handed her £150,000 and offered to accompany her husband on the medical trip to Germany, but she refused, insisting on being the one to go.


He asked with sadness:


“What about Yassin?”


“I’ll leave him with my neighbour Fawqiya. She welcomed that!”


The lava of memory is pierced by someone’s scream:


“Hey, man, the bridge is for cars!”


Here’s a polished version of the text:


“As he awakens, he finds himself being drawn across a bridge! Confusion clouds his mind as he takes in his surroundings—the Abbassia Bridge? How did he end up here? Just moments ago, he was in his apartment on Merghani Street, in the comfort of his bedroom, in the bed he had invited another to share with him 25 years ago; a bed meant for sharing what cannot be shared!”



A New Home – Nabila Al-Sheikh – trans. Hatem Al-Shamea

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