Known to us only through North African manuscripts, and translated into English for the first time, A Hundred and One Nights is a marvelous example of the rich tradition of popular Arabic storytelling. Like its more famous sibling, the Thousand and One Nights, this collection opens with the frame story of Shahrazad, the gifted vizier’s daughter who recounts imaginative tales night after night in an effort to distract the murderous king from taking her life. A Hundred and One Nights features an almost entirely different set of stories, however, each one more thrilling, amusing, and disturbing than the last. In them, we encounter tales of epic warriors, buried treasures, disappearing brides, cannibal demon women, fatal shipwrecks, and clever ruses, where human strength and ingenuity play out against a backdrop of inexorable, inscrutable fate.
Although these tales draw on motifs and story elements that circulated across cultures, A Hundred and One Nights is distinctly rooted in Arabic literary culture and the Islamic tradition. It is also likely much older than Thousand and One Nights, drawing on Indian and Chinese antecedents. This careful edition and vibrant translation of A Hundred and One Nights promises to transport readers, new and veteran alike, into its fantastical realms of magic and wonder.