Yemen and the Arab World in Wajdi al-Ahdal’s novels: from Parody to Realism

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Since the early 1990s, Yemeni fiction has developed a style of writing that modern literary studies tend to consider one of the manifestations of postmodern aesthetics. This style was evidently born by a social feeling of the time that can be described as an “ideological deadlock”. This style, whose main feature is total irony expressed mostly in the form of parody, is best seen in the works of Wajdi al-Ahdal (born in 1973), one of the most discussed and translated Yemeni authors. The writer has now gone all the way from pronounced postmodernism, expressed in parody, to mature realism with its inherent picture of the inner world of the hero. In his earlier novels one can see such characteristic features of postmodernism as total parody, the relativistic nature of puppet characters, grotesque and black humor (often related to the sexual and physiological sphere), direct or parodic use of texts, plots and stylistic codes of written medieval heritage and oral folklore, a mix of genres and styles, undermining the stylistic and genre codes. Meanwhile, in his later novels we see absolutely realistic plots (although with elements of mysticism) and typical Yemeni characters with their vividly represented inner worlds. However, no matter what strategy the writer uses in a particular novel postmodern or realistic one its goal is to portray as impressively as possible the social and cultural backwardness of Yemen and the Arab world as a whole.
Translated title of the contributionЙемен и Арабский мир в романах Ваджди аль-Ахдаля: от литературной пародии к реализму
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-64
JournalАрабистика Евразии
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2020


  • Arab literature
  • Arab novel
  • Yemen
  • Wajdi al-Ahdal
  • postmodernism
  • parody


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