Damascus Nights

Rafik Schami / Translated by Philip Boehm

‘Timely and timeless at once…’
New York Times Book Review

‘A picturesque collection of tales … wonderfully contemporary’
Los Angeles Times Book Review

‘A highly atmospheric, pungent narrative’
Publisher’s Weekly

‘A charming book of Arab tales about tale-telling by tells Dickens might have invented.’
Lore Segal

‘A master spinner of innocently beguiling yarns, slyly oblivious to the Western cartographies of narrative art and faithful only to the oral itineraries of the classical Arab storytellers, Rafik Schami plays with the genre of the Western novel, and he explodes it from within.’
Anton Shammas


One day Salim the coachman, the most famous storyteller in Damascus, is mysteriously struck dumb. To break the spell, seven friends gather for seven nights and each present Salim with a wondrous gift – seven stories of their own design.

Delightfully transformed for modern sensibilities by the award-winning novelist Rafik Schami, Damascus Nights is a sly and graceful work that revels in the power of the classical Arab tradition of storytelling.

RAFIK SCHAMI was born in Damascus in 1946, came to Germany in 1971 and studied chemistry in Heidelberg. Today he is the most successful German-speaking Arabic writer. His novels have been translated into 21 languages and received numerous international awards. He is the author of The Dark Side of Love, The Calligrapher’s Secret, and Damascus: Taste of a City.

ANTHEA BELL‘s translations include W.G. Sebald’s Austerlitz, Wladyslaw Szpilman’s memoir The Pianist, E. T. A. Hoffmann’s The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr, as well as a large selection of Stefan Zweig’s novellas and stories. Her prizes and awards include the Mildred L. Batchelder Award (seven times), the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, the Helen and Kurt Wolff Prize, and the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize.

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