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.
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.
Praise for One Thousand and One Nights: A Retelling…
“Magical. . . . Bursting with jinnis and mischief.”
—Donna Tartt, The Times (London)
“[al-Shaykh] brings the modern fiction writer’s gift for psychological complexity to the rich-but-streamlined quality of the originals. . . . Read through knowing you’re getting the very best of The Arabian Nights.”
—O, The Oprah Magazine
“al-Shaykh performs a great service in retelling [the Arabian Nights]. . . . [She] has shifted the camera angles, as it were, and trained the spotlight on the characters. . . . We get more of the essence of these stories, their anarchic humor and cheerful sadism.”
“A treat and a trap for story lovers. Like a contemporary Shahrazad, al-Shaykh has rendered 19 little masterpieces into a wondrously warm, ribald and hilarious concoction.”
—Hanif Kureishi, The Guardian (London)