Cover art by Andrew Skwish

In a Clear Concise Arabic Tongue

Yussef El Gundi
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This collection includes ten short plays: In BRASS KNUCKLES, a woman, Maysoon, stands in front of a mirror, puts on her hijab, and girds herself to face the outside world. In PICKING UP THE SCENT, archeologist Hisham feels compelled to enter a war zone to do his job. His wife, Nisrin, finds the risk too great. In THE TYRANT, a deposed ruler defends his record as a man devoted to his people. In THE BIRDS FLEW IN, a mother’s son has made the ultimate sacrifice. THE MONOLOGIST SUFFERS HER MONOLOGUE offers a ruminative monologue on Palestine. In SO UNLIKE ME, a battle-scarred peace activist struggles with her calling. In THE SNIPER, when a man is casually introduced to an army sniper, it provokes a deeply discomfiting reaction. A MARRIAGE PROPOSAL is a delightful adaptation of Chekhov’s classic short comedy with a distinctly Egyptian twist. In THE REVIEW, a writer’s relationship is on the line when his work reveals perhaps more about his own biases than he realizes. In RADICAL DEPARTURE, a Muslim man prepares to board a plane under the suspicious eyes of his fellow passengers.

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Press Quotes

“PICKING UP THE SCENT is a heart-breaking opener about life in a war zone. Archeologist Hisham discovers a lost perfume bottle. His wife, Nisrin, a poet, begs him not to pursue its history further, what with the risk of the falling bombs and military advances. What follows is a stripped-down, actor en actor tear jerker. These are glorious moments: virtually no set, just black curtains, and a few actors giving it their all. It’s a zinger of a start.” —Clinton Stark, Stark Insider

“In THE TYRANT … excellence is established for the entire evening … The play itself is brilliant, dark, challenging and thoroughly believable … At the end of this ‘short’ play I felt like I’d spent a month with this man, and that the experience had entirely changed the way that I look at myself and the world. Pretty much the definition of a ‘complete,’ fully-realized play.” —Jerry Kraft,

“Last night I saw one of the best short political plays I’ve ever seen, a fifteen-minute one-person play called SO UNLIKE ME about a veteran peace activist … wrestling with despair, bleakness, powerlessness, the appeal of violence, the strengths and limits of non-violence and a bunch of other tough issues. It’s funny, eloquent, disturbing and would make a great addition to some kind of cultural program that peace groups are putting on.” —Paul Loeb (author of Soul of a Citizen) in a letter to a peace activist

“THE SNIPER [is] humor-filled but honest and riveting reflection on the deep psychological roots of militarism.” —Robert Avila, San Francisco Bay Guardian

“THE MONOLOGIST SUFFERS HER MONOLOGUE is a witty and vibrant piece.” —Jeffrey R Smith, Jeffrey R Smith Reviews

About the Author


  • Yussef El Guindi

    Born in Egypt, raised in London, and now based in Seattle, Yussef El Guindi’s work frequently examines the collision of ethnicities, cultures, and politics that face Arab-Americans and Muslim Americans. El Guindi holds an MFA in playwriting from Carnegie Mellon University and has worked as resident playwright at Silk Road Theatre Project; literary manager for Golden Thread Productions; and playwright-in-residence at Duke University. He is the recipient of many honors, including the Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award and the 2010 Middle East America Distinguished Playwright Award. El Guindi's most recent productions include THE TALENTED ONES at Artists Repertory Theatre in Portland (Santa Barbara Independent Indy Awards); THREESOME at Portland Center Stage, ACT, and at 59E59 (winner of a Portland Drammy for Best Original Script); PILGRIMS MUSA AND SHERI IN THE NEW WORLD (winner of the Steinberg/American Theater Critics Association's New Play Award in 2012; and the 2011 Gregory Award) also at ACT, and at Center Repertory Company (Walnut Creek, CA) 2013; and LANGUAGE ROOMS (Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award), co-produced by Golden Thread Productions and the Asian American Theater Company in San Francisco; at the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia (premiere), and at the Los Angeles Theater Center. Other productions: OUR ENEMIES: LIVELY SCENES OF LOVE AND COMBAT was produced by Silk Road Theater Project and won the M. Elizabeth Osborn award. His play BACK OF THE THROAT (winner of L.A. Weekly's Excellence in Playwriting Award for 2006), PILGRIMS MUSA AND SHERI IN THE NEW WORLD, JIHAD JONES AND THE KALASHNIKOV BABES, SUCH A BEAUTIFUL VOICE IS SAYEDA and KARIMA’S CITY have been published by Dramatists Play Service. TEN ACROBATS IN AN AMAZING LEAP OF FAITH, COLLABORATOR, THREESOME, and THE TALENTED ONES have been published by Broadway Play Publishing Inc. OUR ENEMIES: LIVELY SCENES OF LOVE AND COMBAT is published in the anthology FOUR ARAB AMERICAN PLAYS published by McFarland Books. In January 2019, Bloomsbury will publish SELECTED WORKS BY YUSSEF EL GUINDI. Currently a Core Company playwright member at ACT in Seattle, 2018.

About the Book

Book Information

Publisher BPPI
Publication Date 12/7/2021
Pages 180
ISBN 9780881459166