December 5, 2009

Take Me Yemen

Take Me Away Saturday

As a lover of books that take place in different cultures and are about different cultures, Take Me Away is a way to share this love with you, my readers and friends!
Each week I feature a different country or culture (ex. Cherokee, Jewish, etc. that do not have a specific country per se) and list some books that can transport you there. (Note: ex. not necessarily books by a German or an Australian, but books set in Germany or Australia.)
I am keeping a map of the countries we visit, which you can see at the bottom of this post. Here is a list of both countries and cultures visited so far. Check them out and discover some good books to read:

The Americas and the Caribbean
Triple Threat
Middle East
Sierra Leone
Australia, Pacific Islands
New Zealand
Cultures Across the World
Australian Aborigines
Sioux Nation
Inuit Culture

This week we are visiting the country of Yemen. Here is an easy to see map of Yemen:
For more information on this country, click here.

Click on the titles of the books below to read reviews and/or purchase the book.

A Vision of Yemen by Nicole Pontcharra-Postnikowa
Sheikh Hassan Al Thani is a tireless explorer of the history of southern Arabia. A curious observer who is well acquainted with his subject, he photographs the footprints of this civilization, while pondering the country's future. This work takes the reader progressively deeper into the heart of Yemen to see fascinating landscapes, streets, architecture of ancient towns, cars, satellite dishes, and other signs of modernity. The photographer trains his lens on people who emerge from these photographs to give additional clues to understanding this remarkable and changing land. Shot in color and in black and white, these fascinating images provide unparalleled testimony to the richness of this ancient civilization. Publisher: Skira Genre: Travel, Photography

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday
What does it take to make us believe in the impossible? For Dr. Alfred Jones, life is a quiet mixture of civil service at the National Centre for Fisheries Excellence and marriage to Mary--an ambitious, no-nonsense financier. But a strange turn of fate from an unexpected direction forces Jones to upend his existence and spend all of his time in pursuit of another man's ludicrous dream. Can there be salmon in the Yemen? Science says no. But if resources are limitless and the visionary is inspired, maybe salmon fishing in the Yemen isn't impossible. Then again, maybe nothing is. Publisher: Harvest Books Genre: Humor, Fiction

Motoring with Mohammed: Journeys to Yemen and the Red Sea by Eric Hansen
In 1978 Eric Hansen found himself shipwrecked on a desert island in the Red Sea. When goat smugglers offered him safe passage to Yemen, he buried seven years' worth of travel journals deep in the sand and took his place alongside the animals on a leaky boat bound for a country that he'd never planned to visit. As he tells of the turbulent seas that stranded him on the island and of his efforts to retrieve his buried journals when he returned to Yemen ten years later, Hansen enthralls us with a portrait -- uncannily sympathetic and wildly offbeat -- of this forgotten corner of the Middle East. With a host of extraordinary characters from his guide, Mohammed, ever on the lookout for one more sheep to squeeze into the back seat of his car, to madcap expatriates and Eritrean gun runners- and with landscapes that include cities of dreamlike architectural splendor, endless sand dunes, and terrifying mountain passes, Hansen reveals the indelible allure of a land steeped in custom, conflicts old and new, and uncommon beauty. Publisher: Vintage Genre: Essays & Travelogue, Adventure

Yemen (Enchantment of the World Series) by Liz Sonneburn
Publisher: Children's Press Genre: Children's Nonfiction, Ages 12 and up

They Die Strangers by Mohammad Abdul-Wali
They Die Strangers, a novella and thirteen short stories, is the first full-length work of the distinguished Yemeni writer Mohammad Abdul-Wali to appear in English. Abdul-Wali died tragically in an aviation accident, and his stories were collected after his death by the translators Abubaker Bagader and Deborah Akers. Abdul-Wali was born in Ethiopia of Arab Yemeni parents. His stories, filled with nostalgia and the bitterness of exile, deal with the common experiences of Yemenis like himself who are caught between cultures by the displacements of civil war or labor migration. His characters include women left behind, children raised without fathers, and men returning home after years of absence. He explores the human condition through the eyes of the oppressed and disenfranchised and is particularly sympathetic to the plight of women. Abdul-Wali writes in a realistic style, sparse and simple, a style that the translators have reproduced well in this volume. Publisher: University of Texas Press Genre: Fiction, Culture

Yemen Chronicle: An Anthropology of War and Mediation by Steven C. Caton
A Harvard anthropologist whose wanderlust and complex cultural identity suggest (and were perhaps inspired by) T. E. Lawrence, Caton has already written extensively on the prominence of poetry in Yemeni society, where chanted verse is an integral part of politics and intertribal dispute resolution. Caton's latest work engages the same subject matter in vivid firsthand context. As a graduate student researching oral poetry in a remote Yemeni village in 1979, Caton adopts local dress and chews khat with the locals out of respect for their culture as well as ethnographic legitimacy. But a dispute with a neighboring sheik, angry over the apparent kidnapping of his two young daughters, demonstrates both the strength and the limits of tribal generosity, and Caton is plunged into an anthropological spy thriller of sorts, surrounded by cultural mysteries and inexplicably imprisoned under suspicion of espionage. Despite such intrigues, Caton is not Indiana Jones, and this book's truly exciting focus is an intellectual one: poetry's power to mediate and explicate complex and perhaps intractable disputes. Strongly recommended for robust Middle East collections. Publisher: Hill and Wang Genre: History

This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are tons of others out there. Do you want to share recommendations that feature Yemen? Or do you want to share other thoughts? Please leave a note in the comments!

Be sure to check back for another trip in books! Here is what is coming up next:

December 12: The European country of Hungary
December 19: The South Pacific island nation of Fiji
December 26: Break

The Take Me Away Map of Countries Visited:


  1. Salmon Fishing in Yemen looks like a good pick.
    They Die Strangers looks like powerful reading, maybe one for later.
    Great list as usual!

  2. What a great list of books! The first one with the photographs looks the most interesting, I think.

  3. So, a person from Yemen is called Yemeni- not Yemenian. Thank God I never said "yemenian" out loud.

    I have an award for you on my blog.

  4. I so love this feature on your blog...Yemen is a country that sounds magical to me. I would like to read a non-fiction one for kids like the one that you posted!

  5. Hi, Rebecca! Oh my goodness, you've been to a lot of countries! I see that you haven't visited the Philippines yet. You'll love our beaches!

  6. Who knew there were even books about Yemen? Poor Yemen, I'm afraid it's a country I don't give much thought to. The Motoring through Yemen book looks interesting, though.

  7. How do you decide which countries to showcase?

  8. Just to add, there's a book called Sold by Zana Muhsen, which is a non-fictional account of two London teenagers who were sold into marriage by their father. The father had told them they're going to Yemen to meet their grandparents, but that was just a cover up, for the more nasty reasons.

    It's a scary story, but, it's an eye-opener, so I'd recommend it.

  9. J.T.- Great question! I am going to try to showcase all countries eventually. For now I am trying to pick from each continent (not all Europe at once, and then all of Asia) and I have done a couple of countries to coincide with special events (New Zealand, for instance).

    If you want to suggest a country to come up next, please always feel free to do so!


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