‘A Deserted Street’ by Tawfiq Al-Hakim

A Deserted Street by Tawfiq Al-Hakim, 1934

The magic trick:

A story in three conversations with minimal connective information

This is a short story as a play. As such, the plot is dependent on the staging, and that staging takes the form of three conversations. The effect is confusion for the reader. Without any connective language, it’s up to us to figure out what it all means. Each conversation includes a sense of love, loss, and longing. Without the specifics, our main takeaway is just a feel – a feeling of love and longing. Maybe that’s better than knowing the specifics.

And that’s quite a trick on Al-Hakim’s part.

The selection:

THE NEGRO: Allow me one word.

THE VOICE: Be quick with it.

THE NEGRO: I want to see her.

THE VOICE: Did you come because of her?

THE NEGRO: Yes, and I must know what she is.

THE VOICE: She is everything, and nothing is known about her.

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