Goodreads interviews the author of Extraordinary Adventures of Mullah Nasruddin
Strobing Limelight interviews Ron J. Suresha
Ron J. Suresha is an award-winning author and editor of more than a dozen books, most recently, EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES OF MULLAH NASRUDDIN: NAUGHTY, UNEXPURGATED TALES OF THE BELOVED WISE FOOL FROM THE MIDDLE AND FAR EAST, published by Lethe Press. The book is the much-anticipated sequel to Suresha’s first, award-winning collection of Turkish folk tales. He lives in central-western Connecticut. Mr. Suresha, please tell us more.
Ron J. Suresha: Thanks for asking. Extraordinary Adventures is a collection of more than 250 hilarious and completely authentic stories about the famous wise fool, Mullah Nasruddin. For more than eight centuries, this beloved character has been known in many countries by various names, including Afanti, Nastratin, Djuha, Giufá, Sheikh Nasruddin, Abu Nuwas, and, in Turkey, which claims him as a native, he is known as Nasreddin Hoca.
LS: How did you come to be acquainted with Mullah Nasruddin?
RJS: My mother had told me as a child some of the pithier jokes, usually to point out some aspect of my contrarian behavior: “Why do you always answer a question with a question?” “Do I?” Fast forward to the 1980s, when for more than eight years I lived in a yoga ashram, and heard many more Nasruddin stories, which my teachers and fellow students included in daily lectures and discussions on spiritual life.
LS: You’re not Turkish, so why did you decide to do a retelling of Nasruddin stories?
RJS: Sufi writer Idries Shah had published several volumes of stories in the 1960s, but there had not been a comprehensive, modern retelling in English of the most popular stories since. The first book, The Uncommon Sense of the Immortal Mullah Nasruddin, published by Lethe Press in 2011, has more than 365 stories, and was honored with an Anne Izard Storyteller’s Choice Award and a Storytelling World Honor.
LS: Congratulations. So, does the new book present more of the same or something different?
RJS: Yes. I mean, both! Although the first book included some ribald jokes, most were written for a general readership. Extraordinary Adventures of Mullah Nasruddin has all the bawdy material excluded from the first work, plus many additional non-bawdy stories I unearthed while researching the folklore. So there’s more of the same, with dozens of new stories retold in English for the first time.
LS: What is the readership for this book?
RJS: Storytellers, folklorists, comedians, wisdom seekers, readers interested in Middle East culture and world literature — and everyone who loves to laugh.
by Ron J. Suresha
now in print from Lethe Press