Sentence to Hope

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A Sa'dallah Wannous Reader

Sa'dallah Wannous; Translated from the Arabic and with an Introduction by Robert Myers and Nada Saab

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The first major English-language collection of plays and essays by Syrian playwright Sa'dallah Wannous
Sa'dallah Wannous is acknowledged to be one of the Arab world’s most significant playwrights, writers, and intellectuals of the twentieth century. This is the first major English-language collection that brings together his most significant plays and essays. Selections include the groundbreaking 1969 play An Evening’s Entertainment for the Fifth of June, a scathing indictment of the duplicity of Arab leaders during the 1967 War, as well as Wannous’s most celebrated play, Rituals of Signs and Transformations, a bold treatment of homosexuality, prostitution, clerical corruption, and the quest for female liberation. In addition to his work as a playwright, Wannous, like Brecht, was an astute theatrical and cultural critic, and his essays, some of which are included here, offer shrewd diagnoses of the ills of Arab society and the essential role of theater in ameliorating them.

Sa'dallah Wannous(1941–1997) is one of the greatest modern playwrights to have written in Arabic. Robert Myers is director of the Center for American Studies at the American University of Beirut. Nada Saab is an associate professor of Arabic studies at Lebanese American University.

"Wannous has long been recognized throughout the Arab world as the most significant modern Arabic dramatist.  With his recent discovery by major Western theatres, his global reputation is now growing, making this first major survey of his work especially important."—Marvin Carlson, Graduate Center, CUNY

"It is a gift to have these politically trenchant and philosophically rich works by Syria’s most justly celebrated playwright available in these fresh, vital new translations. An important and timely contribution that should bring Wannous’ work to the attention of a new generation."—Derek Goldman,  Director, Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics, Georgetown University

“This reader introduces Anglophone readers to one of the most important and courageous Arab playwrights in the second half of the 20th century. In addition to four of his brilliant works, articles, essays, and interviews provide a rich portrait of a great Syrian intellectual."—Sinan Antoon, author of The Corpse Washer

“An intense and inspired figure, his body of work emerging from the crucible of a tormented life.”—Matthew McNaught, n+1

“[A] thoughtful selection . . . [that] builds a picture of a complex artist and thinker who used theater to grapple with the great political questions of his time: questions of the possibility of social justice, the effectiveness of revolutionary action, the power of words and art, and the possibility of personal freedom within repressive societies.”—Ursula Lindsey, New York Review of Books

“Sentence to Hope is a valuable introductory reader of Syrian playwright, essayist and cultural critic Sa?dallah Wannous (1941–1997). Hailed in the Arab world as one of the greatest Arab playwrights in the second half of the twentieth century, this reader is a timely translation for the English-speaking world. . . .  Sentence to Hope is a great addition to the repertoire of translations from Arabic to English. Students and scholars of Arabic, Middle Eastern and world literatures would be enlightened by this gifted playwright from Syria.”—Arab Studies Quarterly

“A valuable addition . . . the first collection to include speeches, essays, and interviews that contextualize the playwright’s artistic career and philosophies. For both academic and general readers, this book shines a much needed light on one of the most influential and daring Arab playwrights whose work remains a beacon for Arab intellectuals everywhere.”—Hala Baki, Al Jadid

Winner of the Sheikh Hamad Award, translation from Arabic to English category, sponsored by the Sheikh Hamad Award for Translation and International Understanding
ISBN: 9780300221343
Publication Date: March 26, 2019
464 pages, 5 x 7 3/4
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