a feminist take on One Thousand and One Nights

Jenny Bhatt in The Guardian:

Every creative artist knows what it is to work under a deadline, and the harshest deadline of all is presented by one’s own mortality. The quick-witted storyteller of Arabian Nights – or One Thousand and One Nights, which is preferred because several stories originated from beyond the Arab world – responded with creative ingenuity to just that predicament. It has probably inspired more translations, retellings and adaptations across cultures, generations and genres than any other text. It has influenced the works of Leo Tolstoy and Jorge Luis Borges, Marcel Proust and Salman Rushdie, Angela Carter and AS Byatt, and many more beyond the western canon.

Each new version seeks to do something different for its readership in terms of outright entertainment, literary craft, aesthetic pleasure and historical revisionism. Some succeed on some of those levels, but it is rare to find a rendition that, quite breathtakingly, comes close to doing it all. The last such work was a translation by Yasmin Seale – the only female translator of this text – who finally gave us a version without the orientalism, racism and sexism. Every Rising Sun, a novelised adaptation by Jamila Ahmed, continues what Seale began. A scholar of medieval Islamic history, Ahmed also adds historical context to her debut work.

More here.