One Thousand and One Nights, Paperback
3 out of 5 (1 rating)


One Thousand and One Nights are the never-ending stories told by Shahrazad under sentence of death to King Shahrayar.

Maddened by the discovery of his wife's orgies, King Shahrayar vows to marry a virgin every night and kill her in the morning.

To survive, his newest wife Shahrazad spins a web of tales each night, leaving the King in suspense when morning comes, prolonging her life for another day.

Gathered from 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.

Retold by Hanan al-Shaykh, One Thousand and One Nights are revealed in an intoxicating new voice.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Myth & legend told as fiction
  • ISBN: 9781408827765



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Everybody knows about the Alf Layla wa Layla, how a king would marry a young woman each day and then have her executed the following morning, until Scheherazade asks to marry him and then spends the night telling stories but ending on a cliff-hanger – so he keeps her alive to find out how the story ends. Most people probably also know some of the 1001 Nights’ more popular stories, such as Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. I actually have a copy of the Penguin Classic edition of Tales from the Thousand and One Nights, although I’ve yet to read it. I am, however, a fan of Al-Shaykh’s novels, ever since reading Only in London back in 2002. I believe Al-Shaykh’s version of the One Thousand and One Nights – and it’s only the first few stories of the first volume – started life as a play, but happily it doesn’t read like a play. One thing I hadn’t known until I read this book was how… bawdy the stories are. And how inter-nested. While Scheherazade opens the book, the story she tells contains characters who tell stories which contain characters who tell stories… I enjoyed this a lot more than I expected to. There are that many levels of framing narratives it can get a little confusing, but the individual tales are amusing and well-told. Recommended.