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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
19
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 11 February 2013
This book deserves ten stars! What wonderful tales, tales that transported me back into time and has left me hungry for more. I have always loved and been fascinated by the stories from 1001 nights, primarily because a lot of the tales originated from Persia, the land of my maternal ancestors. The author has done justice to the stories. I could envisage everything, and I too journeyed along with the characters through their adventures.
I have a collection of different versions of 1001 nights by different authors, and so far I have enjoyed this version the most. I am saddened that I finished the book so quickly.
I really hope that the author writes another book that details more stories from 1001 nights. Thank you Hanan for transporting me to the land of kings, princesses and jinnaat.
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on 2 August 2015
The plus point is that this version is in contemporary English, and has been truncated in order to make a more riveting read. The stories are addictive and magical, some of them surprisingly steamy (with some inconsistencies in approach - the narration is some stories is unnecessarily explicit and vulgar and in others, in trying to maintain a presentable narration uses metaphors, with the overall effect being quite contrived), and transports the reader into another dimension and time. This makes the book quite an easy read for those with short attention spans.
However, there are some major flaws. Many tales have been omitted, including the most iconic of the 1001 tales, Sinbad the Sailor and Aladdin. The omissions are baffling and perhaps the cover or book description should have more honestly stated that it only contains a very small selection of the original tales. Also, the writer has shortened many of the individual stories, sometimes ending them less than halfway through. I understand that the author is practicing her artistic license, and has manged to do so without interrupting the flow of the story. However, the shortened or halfway through endings can be quite off-putting, especially when the reader knows that there is another 60-70% of the story to go.
This version also falls short of the translation by Richard Burton - while his can be tedious to plough through because of the antiquated language, his descriptions are rich, the translation is full with metaphors and descriptions about the cultural and religious norms at the time, and most of the stories are set out completely. If one wanted to understand the true essence of the original 1001 Arabian Nights, I suggest to refer to his translation instead. In a perfect world, if someone could update his version to contemporary language, with a sprinkling of Al Shaykhs compelling way of writing, we would have the perfect combination.
Had the author set out a more comprehensive version of the 1001 Nights, I would have given it a higher rating.
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VINE VOICEon 18 March 2014
For those who read selections from 1001 Nights as a child and enjoyed the magic and mystery, this selection comes as a real surprise with its steamy erotic tales full of entirely adult themes. The focus here is on relationships and the interactions between people who live in a rigidly hierarchical society in which women, slaves and donkeys are at the bottom of the heap - though not always in that order!

Hanan Al-Shayk writes beautifully and she does a brilliant job in bringing these tales into the modern era. No fault of hers but ultimately I found these stories really depressing. The cultural values they depict are so far adrift of our own that I struggled to identify with the characters or empathise with their concerns. The subjugation of women and the exploitation of slaves is the constant underlying theme in the book and it doesn't make comfortable reading. In a sense this depiction of the oppressed, and the wiles and deceits they employ to assert their own needs, opens a window on a reality from the past. However the problem is that the distinction between the goodies and the baddies becomes so blurred that I ceased to care who came out on top.

It did occur to me that she might be using these tales to make a point about contemporary Arab society but as I know little of it, others would be the best judge of that. A really thought provoking book but alas not to my taste.
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on 27 July 2013
This book was a gift for a friend who gave a thousand-and-one-night-party. She had never read the book but liked the idea behind it. The book is beautiful edition so very suitable as a gift. My friend enjoyed it (or is very polite).
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on 3 August 2015
Very different from what I expected. I enjoyed following the individual stories as they began to weave in and out of each other although I must admit that this got a little wearisome towards the end - it was really hard to keep a grip on the narrators and the framing narratives. Also the indirect way of finishing the story of Scheherezade herself was a little anti climactic.
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on 5 June 2014
This is a joyfully and beautifully written collection of tales. "The Porter and the Three Ladies of Baghdad" is the principal tale: the others are fitted inside it. The stories are not bowdlerised, (thank Heaven!) , so they're quite racy at times.
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on 21 December 2012
What a simply fantastic read,give it a try,im now in the process of ordering other titles from this fantastic writer.
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on 1 September 2014
Not the best translation I have read, a very mismatched use of old fashioned terms along with very modern speech which seems very out of place.
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on 1 October 2015
Excellent purchase. Arrived very soon and well packed. Love the book!what more can I say?
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on 11 October 2015
Like the way it is written but only very few stories are in the book.
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