It is only in fairly recent times that Arab writers have turned their hands to the theater. This collection of nineteen short plays is evidence of the remarkable strides made as numerous playwrights have come to grips with the problems and potential involved with this genre. The essence of the collection is its sheer variety. The subject matter ranges from the horrors of a political prison camp to the comic tribulations of furtive lovers trapped in a minefield, from historical fable to the world of official bureaucracy, while dramatic treatments range from the conventional to the highly experimental, some using surreal techniques—now disturbing, now hilariously amusing. Many of the plays use humor or pungent satire to address distinctively Arab issues and problems, whether these have their source outside or inside the Arab world itself. The collection gives a valuable insight into a fast-changing and increasingly distinctive area of modern Arabic literature. Featured authors and plays: Yusuf al-'Ani -- Where the Power Lies Fateh Azzam and others -- Ansar Samia Qazmouz Bakri -- The Alley Mahmoud Diyab -- Men Have Heads Ahmad Ibrahim al-Fagih -- The Singing of the Stars Alfred Farag -- The Person Tawfiq al-Hakim -- Boss Kanduz’s Apartment Building Tawfiq al-Hakim -- War and Peace Jamal Abu Hamdan -- Actress J’s Burial Night Walid Ikhlasi -- Pleasure Club 21 Riad Ismat -- Was Dinner Good, Dear Sister? Raymond Jbarra -- The Traveler Sultan Ben Muhammad al-Qasimi -- The Return of Hulegu 'Ali Salim -- The Coffee Bar Mamduh Udwan -- The Mask Mamduh Udwan -- Reflections of a Garbage Collector Sa'd al-Din Wahba -- The Height of Wisdom Sa'dallah Wannus -- The Glass Café Sa'dallah Wannus -- The King's Elephant
Salma Khadra Jayyusi is one of the Arab world’s most distinguished literary personalities. She is the founder of PROTA (Project of Translation from Arabic) and is widely known for her poetry and literary criticism. Her books include Trends and Movements in Modern Arabic Poetry, The Legacy of Muslim Spain, and The Literature of Modern Arabia: An Anthology.