Tales of the Marvellous and News of the Strange

A Medieval Arab Fantasy Collection

Publisher: Penguin Classics
On the shrouded corpse hung a tablet of green topaz with the inscription: 'I am Shaddad the Great. I conquered a thousand cities; a thousand white elephants were collected for me; I lived for a thousand years and my kingdom covered both east and west, but when death came to me nothing of all that I had gathered was of any avail. You who see me take heed: for Time is not to be trusted.' Dating from at least a millennium ago, these are the earliest known Arabic short stories, surviving in a single, ragged manuscript in a library in Istanbul. Some found their way into The Arabian Nights but most have never been read in English before. Tales of the Marvellous and News of the Strange has monsters, lost princes, jewels beyond price, a princess turned into a gazelle, sword-wielding statues and shocking reversals of fortune.

PRAISE FOR

“It's hard to imagine shaking off the dust of this thousand-year-old volume of stories (recently discovered in an Istanbul library) and seeing them for the first time. As thoughtful as they are wondrous, these tales run the gamut: epic and domestic, charming and chilling, realistic and magical, with prose like a jewel box. If it looks scholarly at first glance, take heart; by the time God folds up the desert to help a lost heroine find her way across a strange land, this collection will have made itself at home in your imagination.”
NPR, "Guide To 2015’s Great Reads"

"A revelation—a real classic of popular literature, so fluent that it is not just addictive reading but a genuine pleasure to sit down and lose yourself."
Sunday Times

"Offers a gateway to a different world of language and ideas, florid, wildly descriptive and are a powerful reminder of the human need for story . . . irresistible."
The Independent

"This book is an astonishment . . . a profound oddity, but an absolutely intriguing one."
Scotland on Sunday

"Instantly appealing [with] headlong narrative drive . . . above all, fun."
The Guardian

"Lyons’s translation is fluent and entertaining...Coupled with an informative introduction by ­Robert Irwin, author of The Arabian Nights: A Companion, this book is a welcome and recommended addition to those who enjoy the Arabian Nights.
Library Journal