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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.

Ruined Appointments – Arafat Musleh

Ruined Appointments

by Arafat Musleh

translated by

Hatem Al-Shamea 


He entered the bar slowly, late for his usual arrival time. The bar was bathed in a pale golden light, and its wooden tables, half-covered in red leather, were scattered with a few drinkers who wouldn’t be staying long. He turned slightly to the right and began to take off his gray coat, which reached down to his knees. The waitress, who had been waiting for him in turn for more than one reason, noticed that his mustache and beard had not been trimmed recently.

His usual table was empty, a small white sign with a metal stand in the middle that read “Table 2 – Reserved.” It was in the right corner of the bar’s front, so he could talk to whoever was standing behind the counter without any effort. He took off his Russian wool hat as he sat down on the stool, his almond-shaped eyes looking like they were sinking into his eye sockets, which had also widened. The waitress, with her protruding breasts and sunken eyes, waved to him, pointing her finger to give her a moment. She did so as a tired smile spread across her face, one she had grown tired of wearing for every customer.

She knew what he wanted. A few moments later, she was walking towards him carrying a bottle of cognac and a square glass with a few ice cubes in it. She placed it on the table, turned around to pick up a small plate from the counter with nuts, mint leaves, and sliced lemons. As he tried to avoid her angry gaze, he found himself saying without preamble:

“There was no other girl.”

“Really? And why do you think I care if you sleep with someone else?”

“Because your looks are tearing me apart!”

“You know that we’re not supposed to date bar patrons, and even though I broke that rule because of your strange insistence, I came to you, and you didn’t open the damn door, don’t you see that’s disrespectful?”

“You’re right, but I was about to…”

He stuttered and swallowed his voice, but she didn’t give him a chance:

“To do what? Please don’t tell me you were about to hang yourself, I’m out of pity.”

“No, not that, I was about to write!”

A bubble of a smile erupted from her mouth, and although it was tinged with sarcasm, it did not hide her surprise at this response:

“Have you decided to become a poet?”

“Not really, I just think that writing will help me to overcome and…”

Before he could finish his sentence, the waitress turned around at the call of another customer and had to leave. He poured some cognac into the glass, hung a piece of lemon on the edge, and threw mint leaves on the surface of the golden liquid. With each sip, the past floated to the surface of his thoughts again. And before the waitress could return to continue the conversation, he had finished his fourth glass. The effect of the cognac had taken its toll, as the words began to caress his fingertips. He felt like he was about to throw up some lines, this was his chance to vomit his disappointment.

The dry December wind whipped his face outside, and the sticky snowflakes made his steps even more confused. As he grabbed a light pole to regain his balance, he remembered that he had met Catherine, for the first time, on a cold night. Her father’s car had skidded on the highway in a snowstorm, and he gallantly decided to help him and drive him home before the brutal end-of-year cold killed him. The father insisted that the young man come into his house and have dinner with them as a thank you for his deed, and it was then that he met the girl of his dreams who would break his heart after twenty winters. At that time, he was willing to do anything to win her over. He left the Faculty of Arts and became an engineer for her sake, and for her sake he visited every clinic in the state.

He stood at the traffic light and looked up at the tall building where he lived, several blocks away. The reflection of a car’s headlights from the opposite street on the snow made him realize the enormity of the situation, and the difficulty of getting home in such a state. Under the pressure of the pain, he had spent in front of the paper in his apartment for the past week, he decided to go back to the bar.

With empty hands, the waitress headed for the pile of sadness at table number 2:

“Why did you come back? Ahmed, please, if you think I’m mad at you and this is your way of apologizing, you’re wrong. Try to get over what you’re going through, and in any case, you’re a customer and an old friend. You can leave.”

“No, I didn’t come to apologize. It’s just that this is the only place where I don’t remember that I’m unable to have children or words.”


In Proof that I Am Not Dead – Yaseen Al-Bukali – trans. Hatem Al-Shamea

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