Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Tricksters. Hoja Tales from Turkey

Starting up a new week of posts (before I take a Spring Break... in the Bay area!), I thought I would return to Nasruddin, who, like last week's Cree trickster, goes by different names in different traditions. He is famous through Turkey, throughout the Arab world (and thus also in Sicily), and in India. Today's book is by a writer from India now based in Canada, Rina Singh, who refers to Nasrudin by his honorific title, the Hoja: Nearly Nonsense: Hoja Tales from Turkey.

You will find ten stories here, and they are told in an elaborate, detailed style, unlike the Nasruddin stories that are told more as quick jokes. As Singh explains in the introduction, the Hoja may seem foolish or comical, "but there is a hidden wisdom to each that Sufis (Muslim mystics) use to illustrate their teachings. Although the stories may have changed with time, Hoja has remained constant the endearing fool, an impossible trickster, and a beloved character of Turkish folktales."

The illustrations are by Farida Zaman; here's the illustration for one of my favorite Nasruddin stories, The Sermon:

So, enjoy, and I'll be back with more Nasruddin stories every day this week. :-)

by Rina Singh

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