Youssef Idris

(1927- 1991)

Idris is one of the most outstanding writers of plays and short stories in Egypt. He was born in a village in
Egypt in 1927. He studied medicine and graduated in 1951. He practiced as a doctor and worked as a health inspector until he decided to devote himself exclusively to journalism and literature. His medical studies led him to an interest in social problems and the problems of overpopulation.

Arkhas al layali (Cheapest Nights), a collection of short stories, was the first of his works to gain attention. His short stories were published in Rose el Youssef, Al Qissa, Al Masri, Sabahel-Kheir, Al Tahrir, Al Hadaf, Al Shaab and Al Ahrarm newspapers. He was for a time editor at the newspaper Al Gomhouria.

After he made a name as a short story writer, he turned to dramatic writing. His first play was written in 1954.

In 1973, he was appointed as writer at Al-Ahram. He wrote articles which appeared every Monday and were later published as a collection under the heading “From My Diary”.

Youssef Idris"s literary works were the subject of about 95 doctorate theses in and outside of Egypt. In foreign universities, these works were subject to more than 22 studies.

He wrote 9 plays, among them “Farahat Republic”, “King of Cotton”, “Critical Moment”, “Al Farafeer” (common people), “The Earthly Farce”, “The Stripped”, “The Third Sex”, “Towards an Arabic Theatre”; 11 collections of short stories, 6 novels, among them “The Prohibited”, “The Wrong”, “Men and Bulls”, “The Black Soldier”, “The White”, “Al-Haram”; 11 books containing his essays which were translated into 24 languages.

Reflections: “Limited Frankness”, “The Discovery of a Continent”, “From My Diary,” in three parts.

Stories for children: “Right”, “A Look”, “Play” and the “Grey Triangle”.

References: Arabic Short Stories, ed. Mahmoud Manzalaou, 1985, American University of Cairo Press, p 227.
Egypt State Information Service