Part of a series, which includes tales that represent the oral literature from cultures whose legends, myths, and folklore, this volume includes 20 to 30 tales, accompanied by an introduction and a historical overview which give reader insights into culture, folk literature, and lives of the people in the region.
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Abdallah al-Nasser was born in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, in 1953 and studied Arabic Literature at al-Imam University, Riyadh. He is at present cultural attache in London and editor of Al-Thaqafiyah, a quarterly journal concerned with Arabic culture. His first collection of short stories. The Mirage (1998), dealt especially with the experience of confronting an unbalanced model of modernization.
Salma Khadra Jayyusi is editor of Literature of Modern Arabia; Modern Arabic Poetry: An Anthology: and Modern Arabic Fiction: An Anthology.
Women are at the center of these 27 lively traditional tales that have been told and retold in Lebanese, Palestinian, and Turkish families for generations. The stories were written down by Nuweihed when she was 83, and they are translated here by her children, grandchildren, nephews, and nieces for a contemporary audience. In a bright accessible paperback, the informal style has the immediacy and timelessness of family storytelling ("Do you think she'd accept me as a husband?") with lots of evil stepmothers, jealous sisters, and angry cousins who get their comeuppance with a vengeance, though some are forgiven, prompting tearful reunions. There are motifs from The Thousand and One Nights with kings, palaces, and powerful genii, and also from the Brothers' Grimm, including an Arabic version of Snow White. In one of the best stories, "The Fawwal's Daughter," the girl only agrees to marry the prince if he learns a trade--and she proves right. The tales are long, but storytellers will select the parts they want for family, school, and adult audiences. Hazel Rochman
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