Fabulous Machinery for the Curious:The Garden of Urdu Qissa Literature

Presented here for the first time in English, these marvelous stories introduce lovers of world literature to the qissa genre, which has been a vehicle of storytelling in the Near East for fifteen hundred years. Through its spread from Persia to Arabia to South Asia, the qissa appropriated verse and prose narratives becoming the pre-eminent oral and written storytelling genre. The combined oral storytelling traditions of the many cultures which made up the Indo-Islamic civilization resulted in a flowering of qissas in Urdu, jointly grown by Hindu and Muslim creativity. Marginalized and almost entirely forgotten until recently, even in Pakistan and South Asia, these qissas together distill the vast body of oral and written literature, from resplendent tales of romantic love and thrilling adventures in fairyland, to picaresque tales of deception and haunting tales of nobility and viciousness. In this book, acclaimed translator Musharraf Ali Farooqi gathers the greatest of these tales transcribed and retold in the Urdu language by master storytellers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Fabulous Machinery for the Curious reintroduces these forgotten gems of world literature to a new generation of readers, demonstrating the abiding power of great stories and ancient genres of storytelling to address and engage the contemporary world. ( Fall 2021)KITAB (Pakistan), HarperCollins (India), University of California Press (USA)