A Yemeni Passage by Derek Franck
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Land is an important commodity in the Middle East, sometimes more valuable that the lives of your family members. The worst thing you can do to an Arab from the Middle East is destroy his house that is a punishment worse than death. In the Middle East brothers do not always get along, in fact both can be the most fierce of rivals as they vie their way to power. Yemen is a land that is fiercely independent and has had to fight such outside forces as Saudi Arabia, The Ottoman Empire. There have also been civil wars and conflict aplenty in Yemen. Regardless of the injustice that reign’s truth will be set a right in the end.
Safir is a young man living in an island off India, he is of low cast and makes a living selling salt. The death of his brother tells him that it is time to move on. Taking a dow to Yemen on the Monsoon winds, Safir finds adventure aplenty by surviving storms and pirate attacks. Forced to wade to shore alone he travels the Yemen with barely the shirt upon his back. The Dawshan tells him how to survive an together thy travel to Al bautim , a prosperous city in the midst of a Yemeni desert. Once in this trading city and after some initial suspicion, Varma , a fellow Indian takes him under wing. In the city the learn to read and write and becomes a record keeper of sorts.
Not everything is so good as it seems on the surface. The governor Mutaher supposedly set up the city and made it prosperous. He hails from the Bani Hawlan, tribesmen who are rough and wild. This tribe led by Mutaher’s brother Saqaf has claims t the city. Throughout the story there is a prevalent conflict between the two groups. In the end there is a final conflict, where in the tribe attacks the city and the governor’s forces attack the village.
A little more background, an Imam came though Yemen attacking the tribes and bringing them under his rule. The imam took hostages from the vanquished tries to ensure their loyalty. Mutaher was the one taken hostage and he became governor. The bani Hawlan had diverted a river to the town which enable it to become prosperous. They crave to have it back. The governor rules the city by fear and eventually people end up fleeing the city and joining the tribesmen.
A very good story and quick moving. Storyline is original. The author does get hung up on details which makes focusing on the story rather difficult. If you love Middle Eastern literature , especially in light of the current situation in the Middle East.
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