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One Thousand and One Nights: A Retellingby Hanan Al Shaykh
Synopses & Reviews
Gathered and passed down over the centuries from India, Persia, and across the Arab world, the mesmerizing stories of One Thousand and One Nights tell of the real and the supernatural, love and marriage, power and punishment, wealth and poverty, and the endless trials and uncertainties of fate. They are related by the beautiful, wise, young Shahrazad, who gives herself up to murderous King Shahrayar. The king has vowed to deflower and then kill a virgin every night—but Shahrazad will not be defeated by the king’s appetites. To save herself, she cunningly spins a web of tales, leaving the king in suspense each morning, and thus prolonging her life for another day.
Acclaimed Lebanese writer Hanan al-Shaykh has selected nineteen of these stories, retold them in modern English, and knitted them together into an utterly intoxicating collection. In al-Shaykh’s hands, Shahrazad’s tales are lush and evocative, rich with humor, and utterly captivating.
"For this retelling of the classic Arabic tales, Beirut-born al-Shaykh translated 19 of the originals and, beginning with its traditional frame story, embeds narrative within narrative to create a striking new version. To counter 'the cunning and deceit of women,' King Shahrayar beds a new wife each night only to have her killed in the morning. But his vizier's daughter, Shahrazad, vows to save the kingdom's girls by marrying the king and then telling him stories that so enthrall him that he can't kill her. From that opening, the stories build and fold in on themselves until we find ourselves back at the beginning. These stories pulse with sex, magic, and moral ambiguities; while terrible violence underscores moments of pure beauty. Guests are invited into a home only to encounter terrible cruelty; a woman becomes king so she can be a beacon for her lost love; a man plucks his eye for the pain he caused his family. Why retread such well-worn territory? In her foreword al-Shaykh (Women of Sand and Myrrh) speaks of rediscovering her own Arab roots while recognizing the power these ancient women held. Suprising and delightful, al-Shaykh's masterful work has restored the tale to contemporary relevance. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From one of the world's most acclaimed contemporary Arab writers: a sparkling, sexy new reimagining of nineteen mesmerizing tales from the beloved masterpiece.
The original tales of the One Thousand and One Nights were framed as stories told by the young queen Shahrazad to her murderous husband each night in order to save her life. Acclaimed Lebanese writer Hanan al-Shaykh has selected nineteen of the stories that focus primarily on the female characters at each story's heart. She has translated them into modern English and knitted them together into one cohesive narrative that is lush and evocative, rich with humor, and utterly captivating.
(With an introduction by Mary Gaitskill.)
From one of the world's most acclaimed contemporary Arab writers: a sparkling new translation of twenty mesmerizing tales from the beloved masterpiece.
The original tales of the One Thousand and One Nights were framed as stories told by the young queen Shahrazad to her murderous husband each night in order to save her life. Lebanese writer Hanan al-Shaykh has selected twenty of the stories, translated them into modern English, and knitted them together into one cohesive narrative that is not only a perfect introduction to this Eastern classic, but also an impressive work of literature in its own right.
About the Author
Hanan al-Shaykh, an award-winning journalist, novelist, and playwright, is the author of the short story collection I Sweep the Sun off Rooftops; the novels The Story of Zahra, Women of Sand and Myrrh, Beirut Blues, and Only in London; and a memoir about her mother, The Locust and the Bird. She was raised in Beirut, educated in Cairo, and lives in London.
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