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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.

Unknown Place – Saeed Mohammed Al-Hammadi – (trans.): Hatem Al-Shamea

Unknown Place

Evening descended heavily upon the city, and the stars suspended in the sky unveiled the curtain of the night. He was sitting in his room, a room measuring three meters, with just one bed. He loved lying on the floor above the sponge. In front of him were drawings and diagrams. In his right hand, he held a pencil for sketching the designs, and in the other, he held a cigarette, causing the room to fill with smoke. Next to him was a half-filled cup of vodka, from which he took occasional sips before returning to his diagrams.

He was a brilliant engineer who had excelled over all the engineers in the company he worked for. Even his superiors entrusted him with all the engineering tasks. His colleagues envied him for that, always watching for any mistake or weakness to exploit, attempting to manipulate the designs and cut back on materials to benefit themselves. He rejected such ideas, considering them unlawful and solely serving their interests. They enjoyed groveling to their superiors and obeying their directives without opposition. He distanced himself from that, seeing it as humiliation and degradation. What mattered to him was completing his work to the best of his ability.

He had learned certain principles and ideas in that distant country that he couldn’t detach himself from. He lost his mother at a young age and was raised by his father. He attended an international boarding school and received his education there. He was one of the brightest students, drawn into a political organization. He completed his secondary education and was assisted in traveling to that country, which believed in certain goals and ideas. Once you entered, you couldn’t leave; they indoctrinated you with their principles and ideas until they became an integral part of your thinking. Some of his colleagues advised him to distance himself from this organization. They respected him for his work, but they didn’t want him to be part of it. They said to him, “We can tolerate your quirks at work and the steps you take, but we don’t want you to be with them. You know that the company’s rules don’t allow secret organizations.” These pieces of advice were indirect. He was of short stature, with dark skin, slightly curly hair, and black lines around his eyes. He didn’t care much about his appearance.

He wore shirt and trousers, with all his clothes exceeding three suits. He cared deeply about his work, spending the nights reviewing his daytime tasks, completing his engineering drawings, planning new projects beneficial to the company. He prepared the preliminary studies for any new project, determining its final cost. No one could match what he did, and no one objected to his plans or the costs of these projects. He spent his time in that room, cigarettes never leaving his left hand. The ashtray was always filled with ashes. He remained unaffected by the increasing amount of alcohol. Emotion dominated him. He remembered his wife, Natasha, whom he left with their children. He admired her for her intelligence and for being one of the brightest students in the university. He was skilled in dealing with women, and he had attracted most of the female students, building friendly relationships with them, except for Natasha. She was the smartest of them all, which made him want her even more. She was also a member of the organization and held a high position within it. She gave him books and helped him understand the theories for the senior members. He had become an important figure within the organization, even gaining admission to the most prestigious universities to further his education. They had helped him overcome his economic circumstances, although not in a luxurious manner. He flipped through all her pictures, feeling proud of her in front of his family, showing them to them repeatedly. They saw her as beautiful and intelligent, just as he described her. They lamented her absence, wondering why he didn’t bring her with him. They were ready to embrace her among them, but he told them he didn’t want to burden them. He wanted to improve his economic status first and then go get her, starting their married life together.
His emotions grew stronger towards her. He drank heavily, and his thoughts remained unchanged even as he consumed cups of vodka.

The night progressed, and his stomach remained empty of food. He’d eat a piece of bread with hot pepper mixed with cheese to satisfy his hunger. He slept late, waking up early, carrying his sketches and drawings with him. He went to the company and completed all the required work and designs. No one objected to his work; they approved it without reservation. His projects were executed, and his fame continued to rise.

The organization relied on him for many matters. Whenever they gathered, he was the first to be invited, the first to receive the secret message. Meetings were held in secret, as he believed that his superiors were unaware of them, yet they watched him without his knowledge.

His colleagues considered him one of the best operatives within the organization, but they used his intelligence for their personal gain, even if it led to his capture. Their lectures were etched in his memory.

Warnings from his colleagues multiplied, causing him to doubt everyone around him, even his own family. He no longer trusted them. He locked himself in that room, engrossed in his drawings, chain-smoking.

One of his friends from the organization came, he opened the door, handed him a bag, and left. The company’s guards watched him from outside until the opportune moment arrived. After midnight, they launched an attack on his house, seized the bag and its contents, and led him to an unknown place.

The Ten Nights – Fatima Wahidi – trans. by: Hatem Al-Shamea

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