Reading the Arabian Nights

Thu. Jan 20, 2022 7:00pm - 8:00pm EST
All Ages
All Ages
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Event Description

Writers, translators, and artists celebrate the most famous story collection of all time.


  • Yasmine Seale

  • Paulo Lemos Horta

  • S. A. Chakraborty

  • Elias Muhanna

  • Marjan Neshat

A cornerstone of world literature and a monument to the power of storytelling, the Arabian Nights has inspired countless authors, from Charles Dickens and Edgar Allen Poe to Naguib Mahfouz, Clarice Lispector, and Angela Carter. In their extensive new collection, The Annotated Arabian Nights, literary historian Paulo Lemos Horta and poet and translator Yasmine Seale present a fresh selection of tales from the Nights. Featuring treasured original stories as well as later additions including "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves," the collection definitively brings the Nights out of Victorian antiquarianism and into the 21st century.

Elias MuhannaNew Yorker writer and a scholar of classical Arabic Literature, speaks with Horta, Seale, and speculative fiction writer S. A. Chakraborty about the beloved story collection. Plus, a special reading by actor Marjan Neshat.

This program will be streamed on the NYPL event page.

A live transcript will be provided. ASL interpretation is available upon request. Please submit your request at least three weeks in advance by emailing A pre-filled Gmail template is available by clicking hereAny media will be accompanied by alt text to reference before the program or by audio description.

Yasmine Seale is a writer who works across poetry, translation, criticism, and visual art.  

Paulo Lemos Horta is an associate professor of literature at New York University Abu Dhabi, and the author of Marvellous Thieves: Secret Authors of the Arabian Nights. He lives in Abu Dhabi and Barcelona. 

S. A. Chakraborty is the author of the critically acclaimed and internationally best-selling Daevabad Trilogy. Her work has been translated into over a dozen languages and nominated for the Hugo, Locus, World Fantasy, Crawford, and Astounding awards. When not buried in books about thirteen-century con artists and Abbasid political intrigue, she enjoys hiking, knitting, and re-creating unnecessarily complicated medieval meals. You can her online at or on Twitter and Instagram at @SAChakrabooks, where she likes to talk about history, politics, and Islamic art. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, daughter, and an ever-increasing number of cats.

Elias Muhanna is an associate professor of Comparative Literature and History at Brown University. He is the author of The World in a Book: Al-Nuwayri and the Islamic Encyclopedic Tradition, as well as two translations: The Ultimate Ambition in the Arts of Erudition and The Book of Travels. Muhanna's essays and criticism appears regularly in the mainstream press. He has written for The New YorkerThe London Review of BooksThe New York TimesThe Nation, and other periodicals. 

Marjan Neshat recently performed in Sylvia Khoury's acclaimed play, Selling Kabul, at Playwrights Horizons. In February, she will lead the cast of the new award-winning play English by Sanaz Toossi at the Atlantic in co-production with Roundabout Theatre Co. Other stage credits include the highly controversial Shakespeare in the Park production of Julius Caesar (NYSF), Fallaci by Lawrence Wright, The Seagull (with Alan Cumming and Dianne Wiest) and Girl Blog From Iraq (Fringe First nominee, Edinburgh Fringe Festival). Neshat's feature film work includes leading roles in the multi-award winning film Rockaway as well as the indie feature Almost in Love. She has played supporting roles in many films, including RobocopSex and the City 2Alfie and the upcoming Love-40. Neshat's TV credits include New AmsterdamFor LifeBullElementaryQuanticoLaw & Order: SVU, and Fringe, among others. 


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