The Cheapest Nights

Author: Yusuf Idris

Publishing House: Penguin Classics

Publication Year: 2020

Genre: Novel

Number of Pages: 208

“The Cheapest Nights,” an anthology by the acclaimed Egyptian writer Yusuf Idris, emerges as a compelling exploration of the struggles faced by Egypt’s underprivileged. Revered as the “innovator and genius of the short story,” Idris employs a unique style that seamlessly blends literary and vernacular language, reminiscent of Huckleberry Finn, leaving an indelible mark on Arabic literature. This anthology gathers some of Idris’s most impactful stories, with the eponymous tale depicting a sleepless man grappling with the harsh realities of his impoverished life.

With a blend of compassion, sharp observations, and wry humor, Idris delves into the complex lives of Egypt’s disadvantaged, offering a critical examination of the systems that perpetuate their marginalization. The anthology becomes a poignant exploration of themes such as power, faith, love, and mortality, reflecting Idris’s keen insight into the human condition. Each story within the collection serves as a window into the lives of individuals navigating the challenges of poverty, providing readers with a profound and empathetic understanding of their struggles.

Featuring an introduction by author Ezzedine C. Fishere, the collection enriches the reading experience by providing context and insight into Idris’s literary legacy. As readers delve into “The Cheapest Nights,” they are invited to witness the power of short stories to illuminate the complexities of human existence, particularly within the context of societal structures that perpetuate inequality. Idris’s ability to navigate between literary and vernacular language adds a distinctive flavor to the anthology, enhancing its impact on Arabic literature and reinforcing the author’s reputation as a master of the short story genre.

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