Books Like One Thousand and One Nights
One Thousand and One Nights is one of the popular and endearing collections of Middle Eastern folk tales, but it also has a very complex history. Over the years it has been translated into numerous languages while new stories were added to the original tales. The original collection is believed to be as old as the early 9th century. It already featured the framing story of Scheherazade enthralling her husband, the Sultan Shahriyar, with wondrous stories to preserve her own life. For more stories within stories and novels with similar themes check out the following books like One Thousand and One Nights.
by Naguib Mahfouz
Arabian Nights and Days by Naguib Mahfouz was first published in 1979 and is considered by many to be both a sequel and companion piece to the original One Thousand and One Nights. Mahfouz introduces some of his own characters, but Arabian Nights and Days also sees the return of many characters featured in the original collection. The author wasn't afraid to tackle topics such as religion, politics, and philosophy with this book and it is filled with symbolism. Although the writing is beautiful Arabian Nights and Days have a darker tone than One Thousand and One Nights, but definitely worth a read for anyone who enjoyed the original compilation.
by Catherynne Valente
In the Night Garden by Catherynne Valente is the first novel in her The Orphan's Tales series and follows a similar structure to One Thousand and One Nights. The framing story is about a lonely girl who lives alone in the Sultan's gardens due to the strange tattoos that she has across her eyelids. It's only when a young prince visits her that she begins to tell him the stories that have been inked on her skin. As with One Thousand and One Nights, In The Night Garden also features a story that branches out into other stories. While the stories and characters are all original they capture the classic fairy-tale elements of One Thousand and One Nights perfectly. This novel was followed by a sequel, In The Cities of Coin and Spice.
by E.K. Johnston
A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston is a 2015 novel that retells the story of One Thousand and One Nights. It is told from the perspective of the protagonist who lives in a desert village with her older, more beautiful sister. When the powerful and dangerous King Lo-Melkhiin arrives in the village to claim his next wife the protagonist offers herself up to save her sister. The king has already murdered his previous 300 wives and the unnamed protagonist knows that she will be next unless she does something to stay his hand. Back at his palace, she holds the king's fascination with the magical stories she tells him each night.
by Salman Rushdie
Salman Rushdie is best known for his 1988 novel, The Satanic Verses, but he also published Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights in 2015. The title of this fantasy novel refers to the period of time that Scheherazard spent telling her stories in One Thousand and One Nights. Although this novel is set in New York it features jinns that manage to invade the Earth after a great storm opens a rift between their world and ours. However, humanity is not defenseless as several seemingly ordinary people begin to manifest strange powers. What they don't yet realize is that they are all the descendants of a jinnia princess who fell in love with a mortal man. While this novel does not have as many story strands as One Thousand and One Nights it is filled with many intertwining tales that are as compelling as they are imaginative.
by Malcolm C Lyons
Tales of the Marvellous and News of the Strange is a must-read for fans of One Thousand and One Nights. The eighteen stories contained in this book date as far back as the 10th century and some of them actually made an appearance in the Arabian Nights. However, more than half of the stories are new and definitely live up to the title of the book. Although the stories lack the unifying frame of One Thousand and One nights the tales feature just as much treasure, viziers, jinns, monsters, and princesses. Although Tales of the Marvellous and News of the Strange was translating to German during the 1930's it wasn't until this translation by Malcolm C Lyons that English-speaking readers could enjoy the stories.
by Renee Ahdieh
The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh is an epic tale that draws its inspiration from A Thousand and One Nights. It tells the story of a sixteen-year-old girl named Shahrzad who volunteers to marry the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorassan. The Caliph is known for his cruelty and the way that he takes a new bride every night only to order their execution at sunrise. However, Shahrzad has a plan to avoid this fate while also taking her revenge on the Caliph whose numerous murders include her best friend. The last thing that Shahrzad expected, though, is that she would end up falling in love with the boy-king.