The Merman and the Book of Power brings into the English the classical qissa genre, a fabulist storytelling form common to the oral and written literatures of rdu, Persian and Arabic.
Written by none other than the prolific author Musharraf Ali Farooqi, this book is a must read. For those who don’t know, he is the author of Between Clay and Dust (finalist, Man Asia Literary Prize 2012), The Story of a Widow (finalist, DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, 2008; longlisted for IMPAC/Dublin Literary Prize) and other novels. He is the translator, among other works, of the epic, The Adventures of Amir Hamza (Modern Library Classic) and Hoshruba.
Farooqi is the editor of the Online Urdu Thesaurus and founder of the Storykit Program. He is a Harvard University Fellow.
Sharing an excerpt with you from this book (With due permission from the publishers – Aleph Books)
The Abbasids were the first power in a millennium to come in contact with the Book of Power. Like the Byzantines, who believed its possession would perpetuate their empire’s power, Qazwini learned that the Abbasids, too, were informed of such glory. Through a dream in which events from private and familiar history known to Caliph Motasem were recounted to him, the Book of Power acknowledged the caliph as its new master, gave him encouragement, and informed him about his enemies’ conspiracies. What was strange was that the Book of Power had taken a human form in the caliph’s dream. It had appeared to Motasem in the guise of Caliph Mamum.
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