Storytelling in Syria
By Muna Imady
- 126 pages 12.95
MSI Press (January 6, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1933455098, ISBN-13: 978-1933455099
This slim volume is a perfect example of the old adage that good things come in small packages. In this case, great things. Not only are we able, through Imady’s careful research and strong simple writing, sample the cultural heritage through folk tales we are given the gift of recipes, jokes, and favorite sayings of the Prophet so we can savor the greater flavor of Syria, region by region.
Her organization of the tales by governmental entity underscores the differences and well as the overall connections of diverse parts of a country many of us know little about except as a whole. Her book takes us into the homes of the people, now caught in the political crossfire of the current rebellion and reminds us of the human connections among us all.
I am often tell Middle Eastern tales and Imady has given me and all who read her book, permission to tell the tales in oral performance as long as she and her book are properly credited. It’s quite apparent in the way she has captured these tales, told to her in her native Arabic, and then translated into English, that Imady is a master of English usage. Her style is simple and elegant, retaining the flavor of a tale shared, perhaps in the kitchen while making the very dishes she tempts us with in the recipes offered, or at table while enjoying these masterpieces of lamb courses and other Syrian delights. Sharing meal with family, with visitors, with friends, is a “sacred” experience in my own heritage culture (Italian) and all over the Middle East. Imady generously shares the meal and the conversation (by way of the tales) with us.
One of my favorite childhood memories is going to a Syrian owned restaurant in Pittsburgh.
After the dinner (usually a lamb dish for me) the owner, a friend of my grandmother would allow me to select a pastry from the front counter case for dessert, always as a gift to take home. Imady’s book of stories is like that counter of sweets–delights for the reader to take into his/her heart and for a teller to share with others.
This is a must for anyone who tells tales from this region of the world or who simply has an interest. I own several books of tales from this region and found stories here that I had not heard before. The sayings and riddles she offers are great additions to any story program (again, be sure to give proper credit if you do. “Like” her page on Facebook (Syrian Folktales, Muna Imady) to follow this marvelous teacher of (and writer in) English and scholar and sharer of Syrian folklore.