This post is part of a year-long series about short stories. Read about my “Year of the Short Story” HERE.
The Djinn Falls In Love and Other Stories by Mahvesh Murad, K. J. Parker, Kuzhali Manickavel, Maria Dahvana Headley (2017) – A collection of stories from around the world focusing on the djinn, the magical spirits from Arabian and Muslim mythology. From breakthrough writers to the world-renowned, like Neil Gaiman, this is a fascinating and sometimes challenging collection of stories.
- Amal El-Mohtar — A Tale of Ash in Seven Birds
- Catherine King — Queen of Sheba
- Claire North — Hurrem and the Djinn
- E.J. Swift — The Jinn Hunter’s Apprentice
- Helene Wecker — Majnun
- Hermes (trans. Robin Moger) — The Djinn Falls in Love
- Jamal Mahjoub — Duende 2077
- James Smythe — The Sand in the Glass is Right
- J.Y. Yang — Glass Lights
- Kamila Shamsie — The Congregation
- Kirsty Logan — The Spite House
- K.J. Parker — Message in a Bottle
- Kuzhali Manickavel — How We Remember You
- Maria Dahvana Headley — Black Powder
- Monica Byrne — Authenticity
- Nada Adel Sobhi — Time is a Teacher
- Neil Gaiman — Somewhere in America
- Nnedi Okorafor — History
- Saad Hossein — Bring Your Own Spoon
- Sami Shah — REAP
- Sophia Al-Maria — The Righteous Guide of Arabsat
- Usman Malik — Emperors of Jinn
This is a highly recommended collection from just last year. For most westerners, the “djinn”, are the “genies” of A Thousand and One Nights and the variations on the theme. As with so many cultural items picked up along the way, our understanding of the character is largely reduced to a cartoon. The Djinn can be found in cultures all around the world, and they are a multi-faceted concept. This collection offers a wonderful insight into them.
Every offering is written with great skill, and I was challenged to expand my understanding along the way. Which is what great storytelling always does. Some of the stories touched me more deeply than others.
My favorites here are:
- “Reap” – In some ways the least”challenging” of the stories. Not because of the writing but because the story of U.S. military operators directing drones in Afghanistan is very familiar. What they see through the eyes of their drone is something else entirely.
- “Majnun” – One of the djinn has turned away from his kind and become a human who exorcises djinn from other humans. His confrontation with his ancient beloved is beautiful and heartbreaking.
- “A Tale of Ash in Seven Birds” – This is a stunning piece of writing that shows the djinn fleeing from one form in our world to another trying to survive.
- “Message In a Bottle” – a scientist has the cure for a worldwide plague. It is sealed inside a bottle. The question is this, is it the cure for the disease inside, or the pestilence that will destroy the world entirely?
I could list almost every story here as a favorite. There is just a handful that didn’t connect with me. But none of them left me feeling that I had wasted my time reading them.
Looking for something new and different? Here’s a great collection to add to your list.