Friday Finds: ‘The Nightingale That Speaks’

A second of the tales from Pearls on a Branch has appeared online — this time, on LitHub:

This gorgeous collection, brought together by Najlaa Khoury and translated by the magic Inea Bushnaq, is full of folktales told by women. From a piece that appeared on The National:

In her moving introduction, Khoury writes about how she went to people’s homes in the late 1980s, asking mostly older women to tell the oral tales they remembered from their childhoods.

Khoury and others turned the stories into theatre for a project called Sandouk El Fergeh (Box of Wonders), staging them in spaces throughout Lebanon during the war.

In 2014, decades later, Khoury published the stories in Arabic. Now, 30 of them have been brought out in Inea Bushnaq’s dazzlingly artful translation.

The first of the stories to appear online was “Pearls on a Branch,” over at Tin House. Now LitHub has published “The Nightingale that Speaks,” which opens:

Long ago, in a former age and a bygone time, there was a king who wished to test the loyalty of his people. He issued a command that for one night no light must show in any part of the city.As no one dared to disobey the royal order, the whole city was plunged into darkness.

Keep reading.