One Thousand and One Nights

Hanan al-Shaykh. Pantheon, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-0-307-95886-0
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)
Reviewed on: 06/10/2013
Release date: 06/11/2013
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FORMATS
Hardcover - 304 pages - 978-1-4088-2639-3
Open Ebook - 317 pages - 978-1-4081-5962-0
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-307-94899-1
Ebook - 183 pages - 978-0-307-95887-7
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-4081-7473-9
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