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A Land Without Jasmine - A gripping page-turner from a gifted and original storyteller, superbly translated
This novel deals with many social and political issues such as the sexual repression of males in a conservative society and the corruption of public institutions yet it does so in the guise of a thriller that keeps the reader enthralled. The story is told by several characters whose accounts do not often tally with one another, leaving room for the readers to synthesise their own version of the truth. Altogether a gripping page-turner from a talented writer, superbly translated by William Maynard Hutchins.
It is a novel which succeeds in addressing issues of sexual oppression and repression without sacrificing narrative tension. Through its use of multiple perspectives we are given a revealing insight into society, reminding us that no event, or place, has an objective existence or truth. Wajdi al-Ahdal is a gifted and original storyteller.
A Land Without Jasmine gives fascinating insight on life in Yemen, with a thriller-like plot that keeps the reader turning the page. In sparse, lucid prose with a tight narrative structure, the author paints a riveting portrait of sexual confusion, frustration and shame. The translation succeeded in creating an enjoyable English read and at the same time preserving the soul of the original.
WAJDI al-AHDAL is a Yemeni novelist, author of short stories, screenwriter, and dramatist. Born in 1973, he received a degree in literature from Sanaa University. He won the Afif prize for a short story in 1997, a gold medal for a dramatic text in the Festival for Arab Youth in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1998, and the youth prize of the President of the Republic of Yemen for a short story in 1999. He is currently employed in Dar al-Kutub, the National Library in Sanaa.
WILLIAM MAYNARD HUTCHINS is a professor in the Philosophy & Religion Department of Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, USA. He began learning Arabic while teaching at the Gerard School for Boys in Sidon, Lebanon. He studied at Berea, Yale and the University of Chicago, and began translating Arabic literature as a postgraduate student, starting with some of the epistles of al-Jahiz (Peter Lang). During his time teaching at the University of Ghana in Legon he began translating the plays of Tawfiq al-Hakim, and later published a two-volume collection (published by Three Continents Press). He was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts grant for Literary Translation in 2005-6 for his translation of The Seven Veils of Seth by the Libyan Tuareg author Ibrahim al-Koni (Garnet Publishing) and a second one in 2012 for , also by al-Koni (Center for Middle Eastern Studies, University of Texas, January 2014). His translations of Arabic novels include