Fiction Map of the World - The Maldives

by Travelbag on 06 November 2014, 09:11AM

A sunny getaway to the Maldives is for anybody who has ever dreamed about a picture postcard holiday, for anybody who cannot help but think that soft white sands and azure blue waters really are a slice of heaven. They say that you never forget your first Maldives trip, and it is easy to see why. 

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Essential Holiday Reading
In light of its colonial past, you could be forgiven for thinking that picking up an English translation of a Maldivian novel would be relatively easy. Yet, sourcing literature from this part of the world can be a tricky task – even if the journey does lead to fascinating tales like Layla and Majnun, a traditional Maldivian folk tale, similar to Romeo and Juliet. In 2007, the Maldives held its first ever English Fiction competition, which was eventually won by Ibrahim Waheed, a writer of short stories. If you are on the look-out for something a little more substantial however, you might want to take a quick hop across the water to Sri Lanka, and give Booker Prize winning classic The English Patient a go.    

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Notable Maldivian Books
As mentioned above, Layla and Majnun is one of the most famous Maldivian folk tales. It originated as a short, anecdotal poem in Ancient Arabia, but was later expanded upon by legendary Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi. It tells the tale of a royal love affair, which stretches across the Maldivian archipelago. With a large cast of quirky characters, more than a dash of drama and a healthy dose of myth and magic, Layla and Majnun takes readers on a tour of the complications that can stand in the way of love. The most well-known prose version of this tale is by Abdullah Sadiq and it is guaranteed to hold the interest of anybody with a love for these colourful islands    

Notable Maldivian Authors
In 2011, Maldivian poet and author Aminath Faiza passed away, and the country mourned. This prolific writer was a poet from 16 years of age, a recipient of the National Award of Recognition, and affectionately titled ‘daisy flower of Maldivian poetry.’ Her poetry explores everything from romance to religion, national unity and a variety of social issues. The political figure Jameel Didi is another important cultural figure for the Maldives, as he contributed lyrics for the Maldivian national anthem. Didi translated religious books and fables, then adapted them to fit the island, therefore contributing to its folklore. 

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Notable Maldivian Films
The Maldivian film industry is modest, but highly regarded by those who live there. It is most commonly referred to as ‘dhievehi,’ which is the name of the local language. The islands produce around ten films a year, which might sound meagre, but is actually a typical output for a country of this size and nature. The most notable film to come from the Maldives, in recent years, is The Island President, a documentary depicting the efforts of then president Mohammed Nasheed to combat rising sea levels, resulting from climate change. It features spectacular aerial and underwater footage, and is a must see for anybody who would like to know more about the issues facing this tropical paradise. 

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Essential Holiday Listening
If you have a soft spot for world music, you will love the sound of the Maldives. The traditional music played here is called Bodu Beru, which translates to ‘big drums’ and it is played regularly (at least once a week) at almost all Maldivian resorts. In Bodu Beru, there is a single lead singer and a group of 10-15 additional voices, who sing together in chorus. As a song progresses, the rhythm picks up and the singers emerge from their huddle and start to dance. In terms of more modern sounds, the Maldives is starting to pick up on western musical influences. Whilst their main output remains very traditional, there are a number of reggae, funk, soul and rock outfits currently making waves amongst the islands. 

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Notable Maldivian Musicians
If you are looking to be at the cutting edge of world music, check out the rather exciting Dinba Family, an art and music collective formed to be a substitute to mainstream pop covers. This ragtag bunch of musicians number almost 50 and they all bring a different sound or skill to the table. They are fronted by Ahmed Ishaan, who believes that Maldivian music is currently at a crossroads. The arts have, historically, been heavily censored on these islands. However, bands like Dinba Family are ready to change all of that, with modern sounds and fresh, contemporary lyrics. They hope that, because of their efforts, more exciting and creative Maldivian musicians will begin to emerge over the next few years.  
  
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