Skip to content Skip to navigation

Ayad Akhtar in Conversation with Samer Al-Saber

Photo by Vincent Tullo

Jan 19 2021

The Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies and the Department of Theater and Performance Studies at Stanford University present Ayad Akhtar in conversation with Professor Samer Al-Saber.

Ayad Akhtar is a novelist and playwright. His work has been published and performed in over two dozen languages. He is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Ayad is the author of Homeland Elegies (Little, Brown & Co.), which The Washington Post called “a tour de force” and The New York Times selected as a Top 10 Book of 2020, calling it “pitch-perfect…virtuosic.” His first novel, American Dervish (Little, Brown & Co.), was published in over 20 languages. As a playwright, he has written Junk (Lincoln Center, Broadway; Kennedy Prize for American Drama, Tony nomination); Disgraced (Lincoln Center, Broadway; Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Tony nomination); The Who & The What (Lincoln Center); and The Invisible Hand (NYTW; Obie Award, Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award, Olivier, and Evening Standard nominations).

Among other honors, Akhtar is the recipient of the Steinberg Playwrighting Award, the Nestroy Award, the Erwin Piscator Award, as well as fellowships from the American Academy in Rome, MacDowell, the Sundance Institute, and Yaddo, where he serves as a Board Director. Additionally, Ayad is a Board Trustee at New York Theatre Workshop and PEN America, where he serves as President.

Samer Al-Saber is Assistant Professor of Theater and Performance Studies at Stanford University. He is affiliated with the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity, and the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies. Before joining the faculty at TAPS, he has taught a wide range of topics in theory, history, and performance, including various periods in theatre history from antiquity to the present, Conflict and Theatre, Arab Theatre and Culture, Palestinian Theatre, Performing Arabs, Staging Islam and American Politics, Orientalism and the Victorians, Workshops in Theatre, Play Analysis, Introduction to Theatre, and Acting. He received his MFA from the University of Calgary and his PhD from the University of Washington. His recent scholarship focuses on Palestinian theatre in Jerusalem. His work appeared in Theatre Research InternationalAlt.TheatrePerformance ParadigmCritical SurveyTheatre SurveyJadaliyyaCounterpunchThis Week In Palestine, and various edited volumes, such as Palgrave’s Performing For Survival, Edinburgh Press’ Being Palestinian, and the Freedom Theatre’s recently published Performing Cultural Resistance in Palestine. He is the co-editor of the anthology Stories Under Occupation and Other Plays from Palestine. He has previously held the positions of Assistant Professor of Theatre Studies at Florida State University and Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Davidson College.

A deeply personal work about identity and belonging in a nation coming apart at the seams, Homeland Elegies blends fact and fiction to tell an epic story of longing and dispossession in the world that 9/11 made. Part family drama, part social essay, part picaresque novel, at its heart it is the story of a father, a son, and the country they both call home.

ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
ONE OF BARACK OBAMA'S FAVORITE BOOKS OF 2020