Fabulous Machinery for the Curious

Musharraf Farooqi


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University of California Press
25 April 2023
ISBN: 9780520388239
408 pages

From the publisher

An absorbing, joyous, and colorful collection of stories from the qissa genre.

Fabulous Machinery for the Curious presents the first English translation of some of the finest texts from the qissa genre. In this book, acclaimed translator Musharraf Ali Farooqi gathers the greatest of these tales, written or transcribed in the Urdu language by master storytellers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Spreading from Persia to Arabia to South Asia over 1,500 years, the qissa appropriated verse and prose narratives to become the preeminent storytelling genre. The combined traditions of the many cultures of Indo-Islamic civilization resulted in a flowering of qissas in Urdu. This collection distills a vast body of oral and written literature, from resplendent sagas of romantic love and thrilling adventures in fairyland to picaresque stories of deception and haunting tales of nobility and viciousness. Fabulous Machinery for the Curious brings these forgotten gems to a new generation of readers and reminds us of the abiding power that great stories and ancient genres have for engaging the contemporary world.