Damascus Nights by Rafik Schami, Translated by Philip Boehm
Rafik Schami's award-winning novel. In the classical Arab tradition of tale-telling, here is a magical book that celebrates the power of storytelling, delightfully transformed for modern sensibilities by an award-winning author. The time is present-day Damascus, and Salim the coachman, the city's most famous storyteller, is mysteriously struck dumb. To break the spell, seven friends gather for seven nights to present Salim with seven wondrous "gifts"--seven stories of their own design. Upon this enchanting frame of tales told in the fragrant Arabian night, the words of the past grow fainter, as ancient customs are yielding to modern turmoil. While the hairdresser, the teacher, the wife of the locksmith sip their tea and pass the water pipe, they swap stories about the magical and the mundane: about djinnis and princesses, about contemporary politics and the difficulties of bargaining in a New York department store. And as one tale leads to another... and another... all of Damascus appears before your eyes, along with a vision of storytelling--and talk--as the essence of friendship, of community, of life. A sly and graceful work, a delight to readers young and old, Damascus Nights is, according to Publishers Weekly, "a highly atmospheric, pungent narrative."