The Arab world's greatest folk stories re-imagined by the acclaimed Lebanese novelist Hanan al-Shaykh
Hanan al-Shaykh is one of the contemporary Arab world's most acclaimed writers. She was born in Lebanon and brought up in Beirut, before going to Cairo to receive her education. She was a successful journalist in Beirut, then later lived in the Arabian Gulf, before moving to London. She is the author of the collection I Sweep the Sun off Rooftops and her novels include The Story of Zahra, Women of Sand and Myrrh, Beirut Blues and Only in London, shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. Most recently she published the acclaimed memoir of her mother's life, The Locust and the Bird. Hanan al-Shaykh lives in central London.
Magical ... bursting with jinnis and mischief * Donna Tartt, The
A treat and a trap for story lovers ... al-Shaykh has rendered nineteen little masterpieces into a wondrously warm, ribald and hilarious concoction, reminding us of how bang up to date these stories can be * Hanif Kureishi, Guardian *
A treasure box of stories ... [they] link and loop and ensnare their readers * Daniel Hahn, Independent *
What a woman!!! What a storyteller!!! * Marjane Satrapi, author of Persepolis *
One of the finest writers of her generation * Financial Times *
A book for grown-ups interested in rediscovering the One Thousand and One Nights in all its bawdy, violent glory. It is captivating * Daily Mail *
Charming ... Al-Shaykh brings her tales to life with a wonderful earthy immediacy, informal and intimate ... Al-Shaykh's variations and narrative choices concentrate and focus the stories on the erotic passions and struggles of women and men ... [Shaharazad's] is the speech of freedom, of what is marvelous, unforeseeable, and possible * New York Review of Books *
Lebanese novelist al-Shaykh (Women of Sand and Myrrh) takes the hundreds of stories that make up the traditional One Thousand and One Nights and with concision pares them down to 19. Focusing on tales that expose misogyny-of men who kill their wives and lovers, who injure them, or who leave them for dead-al-Shaykh is interested in how women grapple with a society that is stacked against them. Gone are Aladdin, Ali Baba, and even much of Sinbad, but what remains is a haunting collection of stories about women who, if not always heroic, are resilient, funny, sexual, and, above all, smart. Anchored by two central framing narratives, the tales lead into one another like a set of matryoshka dolls. The beautiful language is deceptively simple: readers are in danger of being lulled into marathon reading sessions. VERDICT It's no wonder al-Shaykh identifies with Shahrazad; they are very much the same. This retelling will find an eager audience in readers who love folktales, especially those with a feminist slant. Not for the faint but for lovers of true heart, these stories are gory, lusty, and very, very good. [See Author Q&A, LJ Reviews, ow.ly/kzWHL].-Molly McArdle, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.