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January 26 , 2008

The Essential Yusuf Idris

Masterpieces of the Egyptian Short Story


Yusuf Idris (1927–91), who belonged to the same generation of pioneering Egyptian writers as Naguib Mahfouz and Tawfiq al-Hakim, is widely celebrated as the father of the Arabic short story. He studied and practiced medicine, but his interests were in politics and the support of the nationalist struggle, and in writing—and his writing, whether in his regular newspaper columns or in his fiction, often reflected his political convictions. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize for literature more than once, and when the prize went to Naguib Mahfouz in 1988, Idris felt that he had been passed over because of his outspoken views on Israel. In all, Yusuf Idris wrote some twelve collections of superbly crafted short stories, mainly about ordinary, poor people, many of which have been translated into English and are included, along with an extract from one of his novels, in this collection of the best of his work.

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