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Al-Muqri often deals with subjects like sex, war and religion. Interview by Amida Sholan You began by writing poetry, then short stories banney only moved onto novels later. Do you think that everyone who starts with poems and short prose pieces ends up writing novels? With writing, there is no beginning and no end. I always had questions and was always Sex bannet arab — and I wrote about it araab Sex bannet arab different forms. And what made you bnanet the novel?
In Yemen, women are oppressed and invisible. When you write, first and foremost you have to be arag. There were different Sx. Some arzb were indignant Sfx others praised it. But I also got a lot of letters from women — and men, as well — who told me they eSx themselves in the novel. In our world today, humanity as a whole is standing on Sed sidelines" Ali al-Muqri: The greatest challenge Sdx to write freely. Why does sex play such a great role in your books? In our world today, humanity as a whole is standing on the sidelines.
How did that come about? In this novel, I tried to get closer to the Akhdam group. Despite their oppression and the racism they are subjected to, they resist assimilation and subordination to the values and morals of a society that has marginalised them for centuries. For me, history is an existential and conflict-laden topic that has to do with man and his problems with the outside world. From this starting point, I look at new ways of reading history or rediscovering it and thus approach contemporary concerns that arise from old times.
Ali al-Muqri is one of the most important voices in modern Yemeni literature. He is a journalist, poet and novel writer. He was born in near Taiz. The novel is concerned with understanding cultural diversity and pluralistic identities in the society of Aden, where at one time there was a place for everyone.
Where would you place yourself among Yemeni novel writers? Are you an oppositional author? Why have you published your recent novels in Beirut? Was it not possible in Yemen, or were you afraid of being banned? The main reason is that none of the publishing houses in Yemen have a modern distribution structure. In Beirut you can publish everything freely and they have the most modern publishing industry in the Arab world.
What reaction have you had from foreign readers to the translations of your recent novels? In reading, everyone is equal. Of course, there are differing sensibilities in different societies, according to levels of education. But in general I can say that the translations of my novels have been well-received in various different cultures. What is the role of Yemeni intellectuals in light of current events in Yemen? You can describe a lot of people as the intelligentsia, including members of the military, regime politicians and murderers.
They live under bombing and mortar fire, the same as everyone else, with the same shortage of basic necessities like water, food and electricity.