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Under The Naked Sky. Short Stories from the Arab World

Drawing on an intimate knowledge of modern Arabic writing, Denys Johnson-Davies brings together in this collection a colorful mosaic of life as lived and portrayed by Arabs from Morocco to Iraq. From a diverse area of the world with the common factor of a written language, these thirty stories tell of an old Moroccan peasant woman who kills snakes; an Iraqi soldier who returns home as a stranger after years as a prisoner-of-war; a repairer of lost virginities in a Tunisian village; a typically Mahfouzian start to a train journey; the steamy meeting of two women and a cat at the height of an Iraqi summer; the ill-fated attraction of a boy to a magical bird in the Tuareg deserts of Libya; and a novel way of hunting ducks in the Nile Delta. The purveyors of this strange and delightful cornucopia of fictions include Naguib Mahfouz, Yusuf Idris, Gamal al-Ghitani, and Mohamed El-Bisatie from Egypt; Fuad al-Takarli and Mohamed Khudayyir from Iraq; Zakaria Tamer from Syria; Hanan al-Shaykh from Lebanon; and Ibrahim al-Kouni from Libya.

Denys Johnson-Davies is the pioneer translator of modern Arabic literature, with more than 25 volumes of translation to his name. He is also interested in Islamic studies and is co-translator of three volumes of Prophetic Hadith. Recently he has written a number children's books adapted from traditional Arabic sources, and a volume of his own short stories was published in 1999 under the title Fate of a Prisoner. He lives in Cairo.

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