Winner of the 2013 Said Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation.
A Land without Jasmine is a sexy, satirical detective story about the sudden disappearance of a young female student from Yemen’s Sanaa University. Each chapter is narrated by a different character, beginning with Jasmine herself. The mystery surrounding her disappearance comes into clearer focus with each self-serving and idiosyncratic account provided by an acquaintance, family member, or detective. The hallucinatory ending, although appropriately foreshadowed, may come as a Sufi surprise for the reader. Less mystically inclined readers may want to reread this tale to construct an alternative ending. This short novel has echoes of both the Sherlock Holmes stories and The Catcher in the Rye as, in addition to the mystery and a murder, the novel contains candid discussions of coming of age in a land of sexual repression. Wajdi al-Ahdal is a satirical author with a fresh and provocative voice and an excellent eye for the telling details of his world.