These stories are a delight. There are princes, princesses, village beauties, jealous cousins, magic, genies, and more all in one tiny book! I immediately told these to the pleasure of my audience who asked if there were more, and there are! This is only the first volume of the collection. I am unsure if the second volume is available in English but an Arabic version is available. The introduction mentions tales which are not in this volume, including some quite philosophical ones like “Where is the Mind?” I am looking forward to tracking down the second volume!

The foreword includes two statements, one by Charis Waddy and another by Issa Boullata. The most exciting feature of this little book is that it includes small biographies of the narrators– the women who told the author their folktales in the 1940s. Each one also includes a biography of sorts for the narrator’s home village, sketching it in words for the reader. There is even a short discussion of the role that the Palestine Broadcasting Station (PBS) played in early attempts to collect Palestinian folktales and the subsequent censorship by Israeli authorities which hampered this project, while spurring on the author to collect what she could.

This book is dedicated to… Palestinian women in recognition of their suffering and their steadfastness, their inestimable contribution to binding together Palestinian society and, most of all, for their unwavering courage and hope despite relentless Israeli efforts to tear asunder the fabric of family, community, and society.

I unfortunately must say that the quality of the book itself is lacking. The text contains a lot of typos and printing errors to the point that it is bothersome to read aloud.

Contents

  • Foreword
  • Introduction
  • The Narrators
  • The Folktales
  • Daughter of the Rose and the Jasmine
  • Jbeini
  • The Sultan’s Daughter
  • The Bride’s Mahr
  • The Lentil
  • Flower of My House
  • A Promise Fulfilled
  • The Merchant of Damascus

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