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The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye

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The magnificent title story of this collection of fairy tales for adults describes the strange and uncanny relationship between its extravagantly intelligent heroine--a world renowned scholar of the art of story-telling--and the marvelous being that lives in a mysterious bottle, found in a dusty shop in an Istanbul bazaar. As A.S. Byatt renders this relationship with a powerful combination of erudition and passion, she makes the interaction of the natural and the supernatural seem not only convincing, but inevitable.

The companion stories in this collection each display different facets of Byatt's remarkable gift for enchantment. They range from fables of sexual obsession to allegories of political tragedy; they draw us into narratives that are as mesmerizing as dreams and as bracing as philosophical meditations; and they all us to inhabit an imaginative universe astonishing in the precision of its detail, its intellectual consistency, and its splendor.

"A dreamy treat.... It is not merely strange, it is wondrous."
--Boston Globe

"Alternatingly erudite and earthy, direct and playful.... If Scheherazade ever needs a break, Byatt can step in, indefinitely."
--Chicago Tribune

"Byatt's writing is crystalline and splendidly imaginative.... These [are] perfectly formed tales."
--Washington Post Book World

From the Trade Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Sep 29, 1997 – All of the five "fairy stories" in Byatt's new collection adopt the conventions of folk or fairy tales: magic enchantments; the granting of three wishes; adventures that involve danger. And as might be expected from a writer of Byatt's talent and interests, several of them deal with the magic of storytelling itself. The title piece, a novella, is the most surprising and appealing. Middle-aged British narratologist Gillian Perholt acquires a beautiful bottle when she attends a convention in Turkey. The djinn she later releases not only grants her three wishes but also teaches her how to avoid the classic folk-tale irony by which the wisher lives to regret the fulfillment of his or her desires. This complex, sometimes prolix, oddly upbeat tale also demonstrates other Byatt preoccupations: protagonists who are academics; stories within stories; philosophic digressions; the theme of the inevitability of destiny. As with all of Byatt's work, there is a fierce intelligence at play, and beautifully nuanced prose. The other standout here is the gently ironic "The Story of the Eldest Princess,'' in which the clever woman, who realizes that the first person to be sent on a quest is always unsuccessful, subverts the conventions and outwits her fate. (In her acknowledgments, Byatt confesses: "I have always worried about being the eldest of three sisters."). "Dragon's Breath" has a brilliantly imaginative description of a volcanic eruption. The other two titles are charming but less memorable. Woodcut illustrations and a format similar to that of The Matisse Stories make for an attractive book. Author tour.
The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary
  • Published: Oct 27, 1998
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 288 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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