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The Cheapest Nights

Yusuf Idris, translated by Wadida Wassef
The Cheapest Nights
ISBN: 978-0-89410-666-8
1989/196 pages/LC: 89-20355

"Yusuf Idris ... is the renovator and genius of the short story."—Tawfiq al-Hakim

"This collection, spanning more than 15 years of Idris' writing career, explores the social problems of everyday life in Egypt with authenticity, empathy, and humor.... Not only Idris' style, but also his social concerns, characters, and situations add up to a unique voice that readers of English are fortunate to have the opportunity to enjoy."—Washington Report on Middle East Affairs


Idris developed a form of expression new to Arabic literary tradition, deliberately distinguishing between the colloquial Arabic spoken by his characters and the classical form that he used as narrator. This innovation at first raised an outcry among Arab critics, who disparaged his deviation from tradition; eventually, however, his work came to be valued as a purely indigenous product and a stark expression of himself.


A physician as well as a writer, Yusuf Idris (1927-1991) was imprisoned for political activism under both Farouk and Nasser. For a time he was forced to retire from public view, but he emerged after the 1973 war, when he was appointed literary editor of Cairo's Al Ahram newspaper. His stories are powerful reflections of both the experiences of his own rebellious life and his concern with social injustice.
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