(Ṣāliḥ Bā ‘Āmir tells the recent history of al-Mukallā)
in La rivista di Arablit, a. VI, n. 12, dicembre 2016, pp. 51-69.
In 2004, the South Yemeni writer Ṣāliḥ Bā ‘Āmir published his novel al-Mukallā, which focuses on this ancient coastal town, located on the Gulf of Aden and considered the “capital” of Ḥaḍramawt. The author describes the downward spiral of a country – the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen – whose political leadership, who claimed to be inspired by Marxist theory, over the years turned into a power group that betrayed all the expectations of justice and change harboured by local people. They soon proved to be willing to use any means to survive, not least the subjugation of literature to their own interests. Ṣāliḥ Bā ‘Āmir, adhering to a militant trend present in Arabic literature since the 19th century, traces the recent past of his country, both before and after the unification with North Yemen, by rewriting the crucial events in history that left their mark in his and his fellow countrymen’s lives, to offer an alternative perspective, different from the official historiography.
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