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The Djinn In The Nightingale's Eye


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'This book is a work of art' Daily Telegraph

About the Author

A.S. Byatt is a novelist, short-story writer and critic of international renown. Her novels include Possession (winner of the Booker Prize 1990), the Frederica Quartet and The Children's Book, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction. She was appointed CBE in 1990 and DBE in 1999, and was awarded the Erasmus Prize 2016 for her 'inspiring contribution to life writing' and the Pak Kyongni Prize 2017. In 2018 she received the Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award.


If you're ready for a repeat of Byatt's beloved Possession, here it is‘in a way. Byatt extracts a fairy tale from that novel and from Angels & Insects and adds three new tales.

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. (Nov.)

Those new to the world of Byatt might well begin here, with these tales-within-tales, which one can read as anything from contemporary allegories - such as the superb Dragon's Breath, evoking every idyll that ever fell foul of war or famine - to sheer celebrations of storytelling itself * Vogue *
The familiar elements of fairy story come to life under A.S. Byatt's touch...with lightness, precision, grace * Observer *
A cerebral extravaganza, bristling with ideas * Spectator *
The fairy story is obviously a form that fascinates A.S. Byatt, it suits her spare, cool prose and this collection enables her to create very different effects... a beautifully produced book * Financial Times *

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