‘The Yemeni Public Loves Writing Laced with Irony and Sarcasm’: On Yemeni Literary and Performing Arts

Arabic Literature (in English)

Yemeni literature and creative arts have received little attention in English, either before or during the country’s current state of multi-front war, disease, and privation.

Novelist and playwright Wajdi al-Ahdal is one of a handful of Yemeni writers to have a full-length work translated into English — A Land Without Jasminetrans. William Hutchins — along with Zayd Mutee’ Dammaj’s The Hostage and Ali al-Muqri’s Hurma, trans. T.M. Aplin. 

Here, al-Ahdal and translator Katherine Hennessey, who brought Ahdal’s short play A Crime on Restaurant Street into English, speak with ArabLit about Yemeni theatre and other forms of literary and performed creation:

Sulayman Daoud (left) and Khaled al-Bahri in the comedy Marzouq in the Role of the Terrorist (2014). Image credit: Benjamin Wiacek.

Wajdi, when you write for theatre, are you focused on a Yemeni audience, more than with short stories or novels? Is your relationship to a prospective audience…

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