Every Rising Sun by Jamila Ahmed

Every Rising Sun offers readers an interesting take on the Arabic folktale One Thousand and One Nights. 

Every Rising Sun by Jamila Ahmed

In her richly imagined debut novel, Jamila Ahmed transports readers into the world of 12th century Persia and the Third Crusade through the iconic voice of Shaherazade. From the opening pages, Ahmed immerses us in the historical intrigues surrounding the Seljuk Empire. When young Shaherazade’s whispered tale of the Malik's wife's infidelity incites a spiral of violence, she becomes bound to the increasingly unhinged ruler. To prevent further brutality against innocent women, Shaherazade persuades her father to offer her as the Malik's next bride. Thus begins her nightly ritual of spinning epic stories, leaving them deliriously unfinished to keep the Malik enthralled and spare her life.

What unfolds is a kaleidoscopic narrative that extends far beyond the familiar framing tales. Ahmed has conducted meticulous research to immerse us in a richly textured medieval Islamic world from Persia's sweeping deserts to the palaces of Baghdad. Ahmed's storytelling prowess is evident not just in her world-building and sensory descriptions, but in the poetic precision of her writing. Lush turns of phrase and delicately woven metaphors elevate each sentence to feel magical. You feel transported not just to the medieval era, but directly into Shaherazade’s vibrant inner world of imagination. 

At its core, this retelling stands as an ode to the enthralling art of storytelling and its ability to bridge any divide, whether between cultures, classes or even life and death. Shaherazade’s thrilling tales-within-tales often double as parables, reflecting her wisdom and resilience. More than revisiting a classic, Ahmed has infused Shaherazade’s iconic narrative with renewed urgency and relevance. This is ultimately a celebration of persisting against all odds, of the remarkable endurance of female voices across histories, and of love's power to transcend injustices when channelled into the craft of storytelling.

Every Rising Sun is sure to captivate lovers of mythical retellings and historical fiction. 


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