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One Thousand and One Nights

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Erotic, brutal, witty and poetic, One Thousand and One Nights are the never-ending stories told by the young Shahrazad under sentence of death to King Shahrayar. Maddened by the discovery of his wife's orgies, King Shahrayar believes all women are unfaithful and vows to marry a virgin every night and kill her in the morning. To survive, his newest wife Shahrazad spins a we Erotic, brutal, witty and poetic, One Thousand and One Nights are the never-ending stories told by the young Shahrazad under sentence of death to King Shahrayar. Maddened by the discovery of his wife's orgies, King Shahrayar believes all women are unfaithful and vows to marry a virgin every night and kill her in the morning. To survive, his newest wife Shahrazad spins a web of tales night after night, leaving the King in suspense when morning comes, thus prolonging her life for another day. Written in Arabic from tales gathered in India, Persia and across the great Arab empire, these mesmerising stories tell of the real and the supernatural, love and marriage, power and punishment, wealth and poverty, and the endless trials and uncertainties of fate. Now adapted by Hanan al-Shaykh the One Thousand and One Nights are revealed in an intoxicating new voice.


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Erotic, brutal, witty and poetic, One Thousand and One Nights are the never-ending stories told by the young Shahrazad under sentence of death to King Shahrayar. Maddened by the discovery of his wife's orgies, King Shahrayar believes all women are unfaithful and vows to marry a virgin every night and kill her in the morning. To survive, his newest wife Shahrazad spins a we Erotic, brutal, witty and poetic, One Thousand and One Nights are the never-ending stories told by the young Shahrazad under sentence of death to King Shahrayar. Maddened by the discovery of his wife's orgies, King Shahrayar believes all women are unfaithful and vows to marry a virgin every night and kill her in the morning. To survive, his newest wife Shahrazad spins a web of tales night after night, leaving the King in suspense when morning comes, thus prolonging her life for another day. Written in Arabic from tales gathered in India, Persia and across the great Arab empire, these mesmerising stories tell of the real and the supernatural, love and marriage, power and punishment, wealth and poverty, and the endless trials and uncertainties of fate. Now adapted by Hanan al-Shaykh the One Thousand and One Nights are revealed in an intoxicating new voice.

30 review for One Thousand and One Nights

  1. 4 out of 5

    T S

    4 or 4.5 not sure. One thousand and one nights by Hanan Al-Shaykh is a mischievous, smutty yet brutal to the bone retelling of the Arabian Nights. "Loyalty is good; treachery is evil." King Shahrayar's wife's betrayal evokes a horrendous bloodshed. The king takes a girl every night, only to have her killed at the break of dawn. From the palace, a lifeless body is delivered to a heartbroken family everyday. To put an end to the bloodbath, the vizier's eldest daughter, Shahrazad, a woman of great i 4 or 4.5 not sure. One thousand and one nights by Hanan Al-Shaykh is a mischievous, smutty yet brutal to the bone retelling of the Arabian Nights. "Loyalty is good; treachery is evil." King Shahrayar's wife's betrayal evokes a horrendous bloodshed. The king takes a girl every night, only to have her killed at the break of dawn. From the palace, a lifeless body is delivered to a heartbroken family everyday. To put an end to the bloodbath, the vizier's eldest daughter, Shahrazad, a woman of great intelligence offers herself to Shahrayar. She spins a tale for him every night that leaves the king in suspense every morning. Burning with curiosity and utterly enamored by Shahrazad's art of storytelling, the king lets her live for just another day. Awh Man. After this, every retelling of the arabian nights is going to feel fluffy. This book was nasty. The characters disgusted me, yet I found myself attracted to them in the most inexplicable way. Their actions made me want to pluck my own hair out, still I found myself flipping the pages at a very surprising speed. This was bloody and fantastic. One thing that astounds me : The brutal scenes were not in graphic details. The author let us know that a man has slain his wife, that's all. Simple. But gosh, it just had such a powerful, spine chilling effect on me. Authors sometimes too get lost in their interwoven worlds, Hanan knew what she was doing and she did it right, Habibi. Thus proving herself to be a magnificent storyteller. I love how the stories link, connect, intertwine, and my favourite part is: they heap up very neatly. When there are too many stories, you expect everything to become a tangled mess. Here it was like climbing stairs. Step by step. So it's like we're not lost, we're with the characters. Not ahead of them, not behind them. Just with them on the same page, same pace. Moving on to a very shallow topic, this book is pretty. I have to give it to the publishers, they have done a great job at making this an eye candy. From the front cover to the tale header illustrations and not to miss the cute story related symbols that cocoon the page numbers. Under the veil of brutality, OTAON is a box full of sparkling gems. I would highly recommend this book to people who, like me, are obsessed with the arabian nights. Ps: In the end, you'll have a sword hanging above your head, oops ;)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    THIS WAS AMAZING. I read this as a primer before moving on to other modernized retellings of Shahrazad, and it was 100% batshit insane. Any "retelling" I read after this will be boring by comparison (except for Shadow Spinner, obviously, which I put on hold at the library so I can read it again). The big TL;DR for this book: Everyone sighed in relief that the night, so nearly at an end, had concluded without imprisonment or death. Hanan Al-Shaykh has chosen a set of 19 tales to translate and order THIS WAS AMAZING. I read this as a primer before moving on to other modernized retellings of Shahrazad, and it was 100% batshit insane. Any "retelling" I read after this will be boring by comparison (except for Shadow Spinner, obviously, which I put on hold at the library so I can read it again). The big TL;DR for this book: Everyone sighed in relief that the night, so nearly at an end, had concluded without imprisonment or death. Hanan Al-Shaykh has chosen a set of 19 tales to translate and order into her own narrative, which weaves in on itself again and again as the characters tell tales to each other to make sense of their lives. Most of the stories feature the relationships between men and women: when told by the men, they focus on the inconstancy of women, while the women bemoan masculine violence and jealousy. The women are cunning and full of lust; the men are blinded by beauty and later upset by their single-mindedness, so much so that they hack their (perfectly loyal) wives to bits. The central story features three one-eyed dervishes (naturally) and three merchants at the home of three sisters, and each tells a story themselves. They trade "morals" (such as they are) back and forth, in wordplay that continues all night but ends with real-world consequences. (view spoiler)[And the device of Shahrazad within the story was one that surprised and delighted me at the end. (hide spoiler)] This selection is by no means the entirety of the tales that make up One Thousand and One Nights, but the purposefully chosen theme of female sexual power makes them feel cohesive, interesting, and even modern, though the way that the explicit sex is written made me laugh a lot. And the rules around sex get crazy fast: "Did you eat ragout spiced with cumin without washing your hands, you mad madman! How dare you think that you can consummate marriage with a lady like me, while your hands smell of not only cumin but of saffron as well!" Some of the phrasing is just flat-out incredible: "I weep because I don't wish that flat-nosed mule, with his useless sperm like farting soap bubbles, to divorce me and rob me of all this wealth." And in a story about a woman who disguises herself as a man, becomes King, and then finds her male lover, before she reveals her identity to him: "What an extraordinary, unusual thing. This King has a vagina." The all-time best short story written by humankind contains every single element that you could possibly want (sex, death, a woman locked in a glass cage under the ocean, brother kings, demons, long metaphorical descriptions of beauty), but, like all great short stories, it is only a couple pages long. After the prisoner of the demon asks the kings to satisfy her lust, my favorite quote in all of literature appears: "We're sorry but we cannot, fear has rendered us flaccid. We can feel nothing at this moment other than our terror of this demon." ART. I highly recommend this as an entry point to One Thousand and One Nights, as well as an entry point to entertainingly archaic descriptions of various explicit activities.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Prabhjot Kaur

    It is true, life is but a bunch of secrets. One Thousand and One Nights is a collection of short-stories. All these stories are retelling of classic Arab stories influenced by Arabian, Persian and Indian culture and storytelling style. King Shahrayar of India finds out that his wife has cheated on him and in revenge he kills her and her lover and everyone else who was involved. Then he turns his vengeance to the woman-kind. King Shahrayar spends each night with a virgin and kills them in the It is true, life is but a bunch of secrets. One Thousand and One Nights is a collection of short-stories. All these stories are retelling of classic Arab stories influenced by Arabian, Persian and Indian culture and storytelling style. King Shahrayar of India finds out that his wife has cheated on him and in revenge he kills her and her lover and everyone else who was involved. Then he turns his vengeance to the woman-kind. King Shahrayar spends each night with a virgin and kills them in the morning in his vengeance. When his torturous ways never end, Shahrazad comes up with a plan even though her father, the king's advisor advises her against it. But Shahrazad says that she can't see women getting killed night after night. When King Shahrayar and Shahrazad spend the night, Shahrazad starts to tell a story to pass the rest of the night and she finishes her story on a cliffhanger and the King wants to know more so he doesn't kill her and asks her to continue the story the next night. Shahrazad tells story after and there's a story within a story within a story and the stories each other. All the stories have strong adult/sexual themes with horrid graphics and violence so it may not be for everyone. I found all the stories to be enchanting. This storytelling - story within a story within a story and then the stories intercede each other is an old but famous way of storytelling in Indian and middle-eastern culture. It reminds me of my great-granduncle's and grandpa's stories and I think that's where my love for fantasy comes. Some of these stories I have either heard or read before and still I couldn't get enough and made me nostalgic as well. This quote stayed with me from one of these stories Be kind to him who wrongs you. 5 stars

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jalilah

    This is the fourth translation of Arabian Nights I've read and is without doubt the best! It really makes a difference when the translator is also a skilled novelist. One Thousand and One Nights is more of a re-telling than translation. Al Shaykh's own assessment is it is a "reimagining". Some of the original tales have been more or less translated directly, but they have been embellished and changed so that they all flow into one continuous tale. Other tales appeared new to me. The tales have b This is the fourth translation of Arabian Nights I've read and is without doubt the best! It really makes a difference when the translator is also a skilled novelist. One Thousand and One Nights is more of a re-telling than translation. Al Shaykh's own assessment is it is a "reimagining". Some of the original tales have been more or less translated directly, but they have been embellished and changed so that they all flow into one continuous tale. Other tales appeared new to me. The tales have been selected to match the theme of the eternal conflict between the sexes, the treachery of men and woman and the fact that the two ultimately need each other. From now on this is the version I'll recommend to people who have never read Arabian Nights before!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Melanti

    A retelling of the classic Arabian Nights. In some places, it sticks close enough to the original to qualify as a translation or straight adaptation. But in others, it drifts pretty far afield. The prose is good enough that I'd give that it 4 stars, but I had some issues with the compilation as a whole and that drops it down to 3. I think my biggest issue is that the wonderful Shahrazad (Scheherazade) really gets lost in all of this. It starts out traditionally with her story but it never returns A retelling of the classic Arabian Nights. In some places, it sticks close enough to the original to qualify as a translation or straight adaptation. But in others, it drifts pretty far afield. The prose is good enough that I'd give that it 4 stars, but I had some issues with the compilation as a whole and that drops it down to 3. I think my biggest issue is that the wonderful Shahrazad (Scheherazade) really gets lost in all of this. It starts out traditionally with her story but it never returns to her or her sister. Never breaks for dawn. It doesn't even end with her. Instead of some form of the traditional ending, it merely ends with a couple of pages summarizing her story, who she is, how she managed to survive, etc. I can see why Al-Shaykh would have left out the endless variations on "It's dawn. I'll tell you what happens next tomorrow night." I was hoping that at the end it'd at least return to her point of view for a few pages - just to emphasize that the entire book is HER doing. These are all HER stories and HER strategy for survival. And returning to her point of view would emphasize that frame story. But, it doesn't. A good frame story should be very symmetrical, and in this case it isn't. One end of the frame is from her POV and the other end reads like an essay. It just doesn't work.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rawan

    I have mixed feelings for this book to be honest. I mean, the individual stories were interesting, but in the same time they were a bit childish. The amount of sexual references matured it a great deal, and it wasn't that good anyways. However, on the great scheme of things, it wasn't a bad book, and the themes portrayed are nice. I don't regret reading it. I have mixed feelings for this book to be honest. I mean, the individual stories were interesting, but in the same time they were a bit childish. The amount of sexual references matured it a great deal, and it wasn't that good anyways. However, on the great scheme of things, it wasn't a bad book, and the themes portrayed are nice. I don't regret reading it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tamara Agha-Jaffar

    One Thousand and One Nights: A Retelling by Hanan Al-Shaykh retells 19 stories from the original tales that circulated in the Arab world as long ago as the 14th Century. The work is a delightful, bawdy, rollicking piece of fun in which we are lead by a thread from one story to another. The stories are woven together in an intricate pattern of twists and turns, reminiscent of an elaborate Persian rug, bold and splashed with color. If one thread is pulled out, the whole pattern unravels and the ta One Thousand and One Nights: A Retelling by Hanan Al-Shaykh retells 19 stories from the original tales that circulated in the Arab world as long ago as the 14th Century. The work is a delightful, bawdy, rollicking piece of fun in which we are lead by a thread from one story to another. The stories are woven together in an intricate pattern of twists and turns, reminiscent of an elaborate Persian rug, bold and splashed with color. If one thread is pulled out, the whole pattern unravels and the tales falls apart. The stories obliterate boundaries between the human world and the animal kingdom, the real and the unreal, the natural and supernatural, the mundane and the magical. We drift from one world into another seamlessly, suspending our disbelief as we read of humans metamorphosed into animals and back again, of jinns who fall in love with humans, of a demon who traps a beautiful woman in a glass cage under the sea. The tales show a proclivity for violence with characters chopping off parts of the human body with relative ease. Sexual organs and sexual activity are described in such a cavalier manner that some may find the tales to be in poor taste. Others may appreciate their unabashedly honest treatment of the human body—including the occasional use of scatological humor thrown in for good measure—as being perfectly natural and not as something to be hidden away in shame. Dotted throughout are lines of poetry bursting on the scene at the most inauspicious times. In the midst of all this craziness, however, the stories divulge important messages about human behavior: the injustice of collective punishment; honoring one’s word and commitments; the importance of reciprocity; rewarding the just; punishing the wicked; and compassion and forgiveness as precursors for healing. These lessons are as true today as they were several hundred years ago when The Thousand and One Nights burst on the scene as a collection of tales told by a gifted storyteller. Highly recommended for those willing to suspend their disbelief and approach the tales with humor and gusto.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ariel

    I loved this book of Arabian tales for grownups. The stories begin when King Shahrayar is cheated on by his wife. He vows to defeat the treachery of women by marrying a virgin every night, deflowering her, and killing her in the morning. Shahrazad, the daughter of the King's Vizier has a plan to end the bloodshed and she asks her father to marry her to the king. Every night after they copulate Shahrazad tells the King a story that is so fantastic that he decides not to kill her in the morning so I loved this book of Arabian tales for grownups. The stories begin when King Shahrayar is cheated on by his wife. He vows to defeat the treachery of women by marrying a virgin every night, deflowering her, and killing her in the morning. Shahrazad, the daughter of the King's Vizier has a plan to end the bloodshed and she asks her father to marry her to the king. Every night after they copulate Shahrazad tells the King a story that is so fantastic that he decides not to kill her in the morning so he can hear the continuation the next night. Shahrazad's stories beget more stories. In this way story is spun from story into another story. A story will have six characters who will each have stories of their own. Each story is relatively short and fits into the arc of a larger story. This is a book that you want to read through as much as possible in siting so you can keep track of everything that is going on. Some of the stories end up relating to other stories through a series of coincidences. The stories are tales full of violence, adventure, and romance. The treatment of women is far from politically correct. They are depicted as lustful whores who cheat on their husbands and are executed in gruesome ways while men get what they deserve in the end. A time or two women are even able to get the upper hand. A favorite was The Woman and her Five Lovers. The story of the Hunchback also had me laughing out loud. The stories are graphic, R rated, but not explicit in sexual detail. I only had a peripheral knowledge of the Arabian Nights Tales. The ones I was familiar with, Aladin and his Lamp and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves were not included. Sinbad the sailor was in a tale briefly at the end. It seems that some of the more well known stories were not part of the original translation and so were not included here. I enjoyed getting to know the lesser known stories and found them very entertaining. The translation made the tales very accessible and the book ends up on a cliffhanger. Since there are many more stories to tell I hope there will be a sequel.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

    In this version of The Arabian Nights, Al-Shaykh both translates from the original while at the same time mixing in her own Arabian Nights-esque tales. At least, I think they're her own variations, as some of the tales aren't in the two other versions I've read (not that I remember, anyway). This is my third Arabian Nights translation, and while the writing is strong, I still prefer the Haddawy translation. Haddawy combines ease of reading with the feel of an oral text, whereas this version feels In this version of The Arabian Nights, Al-Shaykh both translates from the original while at the same time mixing in her own Arabian Nights-esque tales. At least, I think they're her own variations, as some of the tales aren't in the two other versions I've read (not that I remember, anyway). This is my third Arabian Nights translation, and while the writing is strong, I still prefer the Haddawy translation. Haddawy combines ease of reading with the feel of an oral text, whereas this version feels designed/intentional. But also because of that, it's probably the most accessible version I've read. Certainly far more than the Burton! I was disappointed Scheherazade didn't make more of an appearance, and the last bit seemed contrived. I will read more by this author, however. Not only did I enjoy her writing style, but I also enjoy her approach to subject. 3.5/5

  10. 4 out of 5

    Dana Al-Basha | دانة الباشا

    I've been obsessed with ألف ليلة وليلة since my mom started retelling the stories to us as children, and the books were so popular back then, many movies and tv series adapted the story of King Shahrayar and his Shahrazad. I loved the fairy tale aspect of it, jinn stories, princes and princesses, curses and dreams, the story-within-a-story of it all, when I became in my teenage years, I bought the four books and devoured them. I have favorite stories but they are all magical. So when I saw this b I've been obsessed with ألف ليلة وليلة since my mom started retelling the stories to us as children, and the books were so popular back then, many movies and tv series adapted the story of King Shahrayar and his Shahrazad. I loved the fairy tale aspect of it, jinn stories, princes and princesses, curses and dreams, the story-within-a-story of it all, when I became in my teenage years, I bought the four books and devoured them. I have favorite stories but they are all magical. So when I saw this book back home and here in Kuwait as well, I just had to get a copy! I LOVE this story, I hope this adaptation is as good as I hope.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    This started out as an interesting read but eventually it became very repetitive. Most stories involved people falling in love instantly, a whole lot of women and men weeping, women being murdered by their husband, and of course very humorous descriptions of sexual acts. I loved the premise of the book but could have done without a few of the stories.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    A masterpiece! I was completely enthralled by the framework/embedded narrative; it was so well executed/edited. As anEnglish major, I was completely embarrassed that it took me so long to read this collection. I now realize how little Eastern literature I read, in general :(

  13. 5 out of 5

    Veronique

    I really liked these stories, they were really enchanting, but sometime also rather gruesome. I also got confused with all the Arab names.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Based on the description of this, how on earth is it a children's book!?! Based on the description of this, how on earth is it a children's book!?!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Anastasia

    The writing is beautiful. The short stories immersive. It is a good bedtime story book for adults. Do not borrow from the library. You will need more time to read this in small doses.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rainy Rose

    This... is definitely not a children's book. The stories were okay though but what's with the ending? I want to know what happened to Scheherazade in the end. This... is definitely not a children's book. The stories were okay though but what's with the ending? I want to know what happened to Scheherazade in the end.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Tarhini

    As Hanan Al-Shaykh takes on her own twist in this retelling of the Arabian Nights, comedy and tragedy, reason and fantasy, eroticism and chastity, vice and virtue, and all forms of contradictions mingle together to accentuate a humanistic battle for survival. In an oriental and mystic atmosphere, Shahrayar's lust for blood and revenge is tamed by Shahrazad's enchanting stories. Her only way of survival is luring him into listening to her stories and keeping him captivated. A well-read woman agai As Hanan Al-Shaykh takes on her own twist in this retelling of the Arabian Nights, comedy and tragedy, reason and fantasy, eroticism and chastity, vice and virtue, and all forms of contradictions mingle together to accentuate a humanistic battle for survival. In an oriental and mystic atmosphere, Shahrayar's lust for blood and revenge is tamed by Shahrazad's enchanting stories. Her only way of survival is luring him into listening to her stories and keeping him captivated. A well-read woman against a bloodthirsty king, what are the odds of her survival? Shahrazad outsmarts the king by playing on both of his instincts, aggression and sexuality. She, unlike him, is guided by her reason. We don't see much of Shahrazad in the novel, however, we do see her plea for mercy in most characters, especially female characters, who fall victims of misjudgment and revenge. We also see characters like kings and viziers mirroring Shahrayar's suffering, yet, unlike him, carrying out justice and forgiveness in the end. All characters are in a way or another pleading Shahrayar to have mercy and to spare Shahrazad's life. As a king, Shahrayar, the oppressor, unconsciously hands down the power locus to Shahrazad, the oppressed. Her power lies not only in entertaining him, but also with taming his desires and educating him. To add, other women in the stories carry out a battle similar to that of Shahrazad's. Perceived as weak in their world, they challenge the oppression of men by becoming cunning and wicked as they fight for their freedom of choice, love, and sexuality. Shahrazad does that too in a way because her storytelling is basically her telling lies. Their ways of escape carry no moral grounds but they are redeemed only out of their necessity- as means of survival. But, as a reader, I can't help but wonder, is craftiness and trickery the only way out? All in all, this was a very good read, I enjoyed it thoroughly and I do recommend it!

  18. 4 out of 5

    N.KH #

    long long time ago, i was offered to read One thousand and One night in Arabic when i only read couple of stories , but i never made it to the end of the first book ( there is a whole series that contains these stories). . In my self defense , i could say that i never had a keen mind in Arabic lit which has been a pitfall in my own abilities not in the language itself. After my first failure, the title kept hunting me from now and then. Eventually, i decided to read it when i saw the book in the long long time ago, i was offered to read One thousand and One night in Arabic when i only read couple of stories , but i never made it to the end of the first book ( there is a whole series that contains these stories). . In my self defense , i could say that i never had a keen mind in Arabic lit which has been a pitfall in my own abilities not in the language itself. After my first failure, the title kept hunting me from now and then. Eventually, i decided to read it when i saw the book in the bookstore in English version that considers only of 19 stories .Reading the first stories gave me the most peculiar feeling of remembering some flickers of what i never finished , and for my greatest astonishment i found my self incapable to stop reading. the entertaining characters , the unique major plot , the diverse miner plots and the poems hook all of my attention for once. "Guard your secrets closely when they are told they fly if unable to keep treasures in our hearts who then can forbid another , yours to import" Massive reality lays beneath the cruelty of men toward women , and how women deceive men by one way or another and so how many people, in general, fool one another for their personal benefits. lots of betrayals and misunderstandings take place as well in the stories. when i finished these 19 stories which were all what the book can offer to me i felt angry and thrilled all in the same time , for how could the book ends right now while i have not found out what will happen to Sharazzad . the end , in other words, gave nothing but irritating curiosity to know whether the king would kill her or spare her life . Suddenly, i found my self googling the end .

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sushila

    I read the translation by Hanan Al-Shaykh and it was wonderful. She manages to be quite lyrical in her translation, which is an impressive feat. This version does not include all the stories, but the selection was well thought out and cohesive. Each of the stories is short and mostly centers around events rather than character development. (They're the perfect length to ride on the train.) One of the things that amazes me was how circular the stories are -- how stories are nested in stories and I read the translation by Hanan Al-Shaykh and it was wonderful. She manages to be quite lyrical in her translation, which is an impressive feat. This version does not include all the stories, but the selection was well thought out and cohesive. Each of the stories is short and mostly centers around events rather than character development. (They're the perfect length to ride on the train.) One of the things that amazes me was how circular the stories are -- how stories are nested in stories and timelines flit between the past and future. This makes many 'modern' stories seem more rote and conventional, at least in structure. The stories in One Thousand and One Nights can be quite sexually explicit and Al-Shaykh doesn't hold back, which is both entertaining and enlightening as far as getting an un-varnished view of the past. The stories Al-Shaykh selected also provide food for thought regarding gender roles/norms. It's interesting-- in some ways the worlds presented are more oppressive and in some ways freer with more room for gradation. What stands out the most is the constancy of human cunning and human infallibility.

  20. 4 out of 5

    خالد عثمان

    All the stories were magical, sad and full of poetry, except "Zumurrud and Nor Al-Din" tale which had the happiest end in the whole book. 19 stories starting from Shahryar's and ending with the Shopper's tale. But I didn't like the sexual parts from the stories, I thought they would be better without them, And the story about Haroon Al-Rashid, why would Hanan Al-Shaykh write a story like that about him? I mean he's one of the greatest Muslim leaders and you described him as an unfair person? All the stories were magical, sad and full of poetry, except "Zumurrud and Nor Al-Din" tale which had the happiest end in the whole book. 19 stories starting from Shahryar's and ending with the Shopper's tale. But I didn't like the sexual parts from the stories, I thought they would be better without them, And the story about Haroon Al-Rashid, why would Hanan Al-Shaykh write a story like that about him? I mean he's one of the greatest Muslim leaders and you described him as an unfair person?

  21. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    Loyalty is good. Treachery is evil!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Evi

    I didn't thought there was gonna be so much instant-loves, violence, and revenge. I didn't thought there was gonna be so much instant-loves, violence, and revenge.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jolin

    4.3 stars. Review coming soonnnn

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Dacyczyn

    DNFed around page 30. I mistakenly thought this would be a solid retelling about Shaharazad herself....like an adult version of "Shadow Spinners" by Susan Fletcher. Instead, it's just a collection of retold stories from the actual 1001 Arabian Nights, with sprinklings of Shaharazad at the beginning to set up the structure, same as on the original tale. Meh. I wanted more of HER. I skimmed ahead to see if she reappeared in full anywhere, but no. I'm not really a short story fan, and classic folk DNFed around page 30. I mistakenly thought this would be a solid retelling about Shaharazad herself....like an adult version of "Shadow Spinners" by Susan Fletcher. Instead, it's just a collection of retold stories from the actual 1001 Arabian Nights, with sprinklings of Shaharazad at the beginning to set up the structure, same as on the original tale. Meh. I wanted more of HER. I skimmed ahead to see if she reappeared in full anywhere, but no. I'm not really a short story fan, and classic folk tales tend to be more WTF than whimsy. Moving on, which is a bummer because those book would've been gorgeous in my bookshelves.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Carrot ♡

    My elder cousin had an absolutely beautiful edition of this one (not this author) when I was a little kid and I used to stare dreamily at all the illustrations but I never read them myself. My mother used to tell me these stories in bed when I was particularly cranky but they were all passed mouth to mouth through generations and may differ with what's in this book but the gist of it is the same. My most requested story was Ali Baba and the 40 thieves which made my mom always groan (oh, how I mi My elder cousin had an absolutely beautiful edition of this one (not this author) when I was a little kid and I used to stare dreamily at all the illustrations but I never read them myself. My mother used to tell me these stories in bed when I was particularly cranky but they were all passed mouth to mouth through generations and may differ with what's in this book but the gist of it is the same. My most requested story was Ali Baba and the 40 thieves which made my mom always groan (oh, how I miss those days!).

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Lebanese author Hanan Al-Shaykh provides us with a retelling of the Arabian Nights, ancient stories collected from across India, Persia and the Arab empire that date back to the 14th Century. Hanan has chosen 19 tales, a bawdy, humorous collection that is part myth and part folk tale with jinnis, princesses and adventurers. The frame story is that of the courageous and clever Shaharazad (Scheherazade), who chooses to marry King Shahrayar, risking her life in doing so. The King, after discovering Lebanese author Hanan Al-Shaykh provides us with a retelling of the Arabian Nights, ancient stories collected from across India, Persia and the Arab empire that date back to the 14th Century. Hanan has chosen 19 tales, a bawdy, humorous collection that is part myth and part folk tale with jinnis, princesses and adventurers. The frame story is that of the courageous and clever Shaharazad (Scheherazade), who chooses to marry King Shahrayar, risking her life in doing so. The King, after discovering his wife’s infidelity, has sworn to marry a virgin every night, then every morning to have her executed. After their marriage, Shaharazad begins telling the King a story, stopping each night at a gripping point, and then continuing the tale the next day if he does not execute her. She is such a powerful storyteller that every morning the King refuses to execute her so he can hear the end of the story. The stories themselves are told with simplicity, almost childlike at times, despite the often sexual nature of them. They usually revolve around the interaction between men and women. The stories very cleverly interlock almost like a set of Babushka dolls, a story within a story within a story…I enjoyed the rich imagery: beautiful women, juicy dates, opulent palaces, and lush fabrics. Traditionally the stories return to the frame story of Shaharazad and the King but in this version the ending felt rushed and Shaharazad does not quite seem to get her dues for the amazing stories of which she is the teller. 4 stars

  27. 4 out of 5

    Raghad Muath

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Scheherazade and her storytelling style keeps you on the edge. For me, she is the queen of storytelling. I was thrilled to see a book of Arabian nights, in time where thousands of new novels and stories and genres are born, I wanted to read something old; nostalgia! And it sure fulfilled the purpose. Reading One Thousand and One Nights was exactly like standing in front of a maze gates. Once you are in (aka began reading), you can't get out unless you've reached the gate which leads you out, and w Scheherazade and her storytelling style keeps you on the edge. For me, she is the queen of storytelling. I was thrilled to see a book of Arabian nights, in time where thousands of new novels and stories and genres are born, I wanted to read something old; nostalgia! And it sure fulfilled the purpose. Reading One Thousand and One Nights was exactly like standing in front of a maze gates. Once you are in (aka began reading), you can't get out unless you've reached the gate which leads you out, and what a trap it was. One story is tangled with another, and the end of one story is the start of the next. It was sometimes confusing with the many and many characters, at times I had to read a few pages back to remember who's turn was it to speak. I couldn't put it down till I find out how the story ends. I now know how Shahrayar, felt. Intrigued and anxious to know the turn of the events and trapped in a maze of stories, unknowing how it began or how it will end, despite the promise he made to kill all womenkind, one woman was a match! But I don't know why at the very end it says "The King was hypnotised by her stories and his violent, murderous soul was quelled, tamed. Until one day..." Was it because the fact that the shopper sister was telling a story of Shahrazad and Shahrayar? Where the latter is the one who begins with the tale in the beginning of the book? I am confused. It was an easy read, page turner, although it included a lot of adultery, descriptive words, focusing on beauty of women at the most, and simple issues that caused conflict when now we find it silly. All in all, it was an excellent read for a retell.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Erika Schoeps

    1.5 I was around page 250 when I gave up. Mythic short tales. They don't really have interesting character development, and this is the biggest problem for me. The characters have names like, "the first dervish," and they are relegated to mythic roles instead of being fully fledged people. Characters fall in love quickly in order to expand the plot, and it's difficult to care about relationships when they were formed so quickly and haphazardly. There are lots of graphic/humorous sex scenes, but t 1.5 I was around page 250 when I gave up. Mythic short tales. They don't really have interesting character development, and this is the biggest problem for me. The characters have names like, "the first dervish," and they are relegated to mythic roles instead of being fully fledged people. Characters fall in love quickly in order to expand the plot, and it's difficult to care about relationships when they were formed so quickly and haphazardly. There are lots of graphic/humorous sex scenes, but they're mostly for shock value. Wow! Look at the sex mentions in an antiquated set of mythic tales! Whatever. You read shocking, sad, weird little stories, but there isn't much to draw from this for the long run. The thematic elements connecting the stories feel immature and lame. "Women do this, treachery is bad, men do this." There isn't a lot of gray area here, and the moral paintbrush moves in broad strokes. I could have kept reading this and been relatively entertained, but my time is so short. I bailed.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Wendy Sice

    While this book was a cover buy, I was really hoping I would love it. But, unfortunately, I was disappointed for the most part. It is a collection of stories set in Persia, China, India and the Arab Empire, exploring the relationships between men and women. While there were a couple of standout stories with a touch of magic, mostly they were stories including deception, lust, orgies, violence, deep love turned to utter hate, killing and death. The answer to every problem was to maim or kill. I w While this book was a cover buy, I was really hoping I would love it. But, unfortunately, I was disappointed for the most part. It is a collection of stories set in Persia, China, India and the Arab Empire, exploring the relationships between men and women. While there were a couple of standout stories with a touch of magic, mostly they were stories including deception, lust, orgies, violence, deep love turned to utter hate, killing and death. The answer to every problem was to maim or kill. I was disgusted over and over, particularly because these exceptionally beautiful people would fall madly in love, but really it was all just lust because they could turn against each other in an instant. I must say though, I intended to give up on the book half way through, but ended up continuing to the end, so there was something about it that kept me reading. I think I was wanting to see how it ended, but here I was again disappointed because it was left up in the air. It is rare for me to say I do not recommend a book, but in this case, I have to say it is not a satisfying read.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Seda Hovhannisyan

    As poetic, erotic, easy-to-follow and simple as 10th century Arabic folktales could be: full of beyts(poems in Arabic), full of absolutely breathtaking arabic female names and marriages between cousins, with a "and they lived happily ever after" line in the end, and as a bonus you might even learn some Arabic words during the reading process. If you're fond of the Arabic world and culture as much as I am, you'll love this. My recommendations. As poetic, erotic, easy-to-follow and simple as 10th century Arabic folktales could be: full of beyts(poems in Arabic), full of absolutely breathtaking arabic female names and marriages between cousins, with a "and they lived happily ever after" line in the end, and as a bonus you might even learn some Arabic words during the reading process. If you're fond of the Arabic world and culture as much as I am, you'll love this. My recommendations.

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