Ron Suresha Reads Persian Folk Tales at the Bean & Leaf on Sunday
By Christy Wood
In the aftermath of the weekend’s snowstorm, New Londoners gathered at the Bean and Leaf on Sunday to listen to local author Ron Suresha read stories from his collection The Uncommon Sense of the Immortal Mullah Nasruddin. Nasruddin has been a popular folk hero in the Middle East for over 800 years; Suresha collected more than 350 stories featuring Nasruddin to include in his anthology, seeking to introduce the timeless folk hero and his humorous tales to a new, American audience.
Suresha is a native of Detroit, but has lived in New London for six years. He studied creative writing at the University of Michigan and spent much of his adult life working in publishing. Fifteen years ago Suresha decided that he wanted to collect the stories of Mullah Nasruddin and incorporate them in a modern, vernacular English text.
“The English text I found of the stories was written in the 1950s. The language was imperial and stodgy,” says Suresha. “I decided to do my own version.”
Over the following years Suresha read Nasruddin stories in Turkish, Hebrew, French, Spanish and German. He compared dozens of texts to compile his own version, choosing 350 of the most popular stories and jokes for his new English translation.
Suresha has been a lifelong devotee of Mullah Nasruddin. His mother, who is Israeli, told him the stories when he was a child, piquing Suresha’s interest in the ancient “wise fool.”
He spent much of his time writing and collecting the stories in local coffee shops, including the Bean and Leaf and Muddy Waters. “I have my own home office,” said Suresha. “But it would get kind of lonely, so I would go out and write elsewhere.”
The cover illustrator of The Uncommon Sense of the Immortal Mullah Nasruddin is also a local New Londoner, Sgott MacKenzie.
After the reading, attendees were treated to cake and given the opportunity to buy signed copies of the book.
The Uncommon Sense of the Immortal Mullah Nasruddin is available through Lethe Press, and can be downloaded to electronic book formats. Suresha also maintains a Nasruddin website: www.mullahnasruddin.com, where new stories are posted regularly and links to other Nasruddin sites are provided.