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One Thousand and One Nights

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  2,842 ratings  ·  306 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published June 11th 2013 by Pantheon (first published August 15th 2011)
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Jalilah Absolutely! There are many translations of the Arabian Nights tales. I've read several of them and this is by far the best. It makes a huge difference…moreAbsolutely! There are many translations of the Arabian Nights tales. I've read several of them and this is by far the best. It makes a huge difference when the translator is also a skilled novelist as in this case. If you've never read Arabian Nights or only know the watered down Disney versions Hanan Al-Shaykh's One Thousand and One Nights would be the best place to start. (less)
Saleha Aziz There is a story at the beginning of the book about a fisherman and a jinni.

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Average rating 3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,842 ratings  ·  306 reviews

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Mar 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Prabhjot Kaur
Jan 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
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
This is the fourth Arabian Nights translation 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 although Al Shaykh's own assessment is that 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 sel
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. ...more
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
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 ...more
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
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
Dec 05, 2015 rated it liked it
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.
I really liked these stories, they were really enchanting, but sometime also rather gruesome.
I also got confused with all the Arab names.
Sep 24, 2019 marked it as never-will-read  ·  review of another edition
Based on the description of this, how on earth is it a children's book!?! ...more
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.
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. ...more
Jun 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arabian-nights
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 ...more
Sarah Tarhini
Jan 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
N.KH #
Jun 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Dec 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
خالد عثمان
Jan 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
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? ...more
Jul 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Loyalty is good. Treachery is evil!
I didn't thought there was gonna be so much instant-loves, violence, and revenge. ...more
Jamie Dacyczyn
Jan 13, 2020 marked it as did-not-finish
Shelves: retold-tales
DNFed around page 30. I mistakenly thought this would be a solid retelling about Shaharazad 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 ...more
Shivvani Rao (Carrot)
Jan 22, 2021 marked it as to-read
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 ...more
Jul 19, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2021
4.3 stars. Review coming soonnnn
Raghad Muath
Feb 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-my-shelf
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Erika Schoeps
Jul 18, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Wendy Sice
Nov 06, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Seda Hovhannisyan
Jan 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Oct 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A magical, brutal and erotic retelling of a thousand and one arabian nights. The 19 tales of Shahrazad to Sultan Shahrayar were lyrical and flowed through the pages like water. The book is enchanting, expect violent and sexual content. The framework is based on the original, it was a flawless loop. Oh my, i just loved it
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved reading this at night, it transported me to the a distant land where the wind smells like jasmine and rose water is present in every marble mansion. That said I wasn't expecting it to be so sexual and violet, sometimes almost crudely so, but I think that is part of the charm of the story telling aspect of it all.
Loved Delila's story.
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Hanan Al-Shaykh (Arabic: حنان الشيخ) is a Lebanese journalist, novelist, short-story writer, and playwright. Born into a conservative Shia' Muslim family, she received her primary education in Beirut and later she attended the American College for Girls in Cairo. She began her journalism career in Egypt before returning to Lebanon. Her short stories and novels feature primarily female characters i ...more

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