100+ Favourite Tales of Nasreddin Hoca — now in print!

100+ Favourite Tales of Nasreddin Hoca:

Treasured, oft-told stories of the famous funny folk hero

Collected and retold by Ron J. Suresha

Published by Bear Bones Books.

~Now available from Barnes & Noble!

Get the softcover edition here.

Get the digital edition here.

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Nasreddin Hoca, the eight-centuries-old “wise fool” character originating from Turkey and the Levant, is the subject of thousands of funny, wise tales, jokes, and anecdotes told across the Middle and Far East, and retold today around the world.
Extensively researched and carefully chosen from beloved authentic sources by an award-winning author, these pithy stories and folk tales are certain to bring readers a smile, nod, or chuckle of self-recognition on every page.
More than one hundred of Nasreddin Hoca’s most endearing, enduring stories, gathered and retold here by an award-winning author, will amuse, illuminate, and captivate readers of all ages with Hoca’s ageless, unique humour and universal humanity.


From the Introduction to 100+ Favourite Tales of Nasreddin Hoca

Eight hundred years ago, somewhere in the Levant between Europe and Asia, the famous old wise fool Nasreddin Hoca was but a silly young boy, with hardly more common sense than a piece of paper.

Instead of staying still and paying attention in school, Nasreddin played the fool, constantly distracting his pals with antics, jokes, and stories.
Once, when young Nasreddin was acting particularly troublesome in class, his irate teacher cursed him: “From now on, whatever you do or say, people shall only laugh and laugh at you.”
And so, even today, people everywhere are still laughing at Nasreddin Hoca, one of the world’s funniest and most beloved folk characters.


A yogurt lake

One fine morning, Nasreddin went to Lake Akşehir with a bowlful of cultured yogurt and a long wooden spoon. He squatted at the water’s edge and began ladling yogurt into the lake.
His pal Hussein saw him and asked, “What are you trying to do there, Nasreddin.”
He continued carefully spooning yogurt and replied, “I’m adding starter to the lake in order to turn it into yogurt.”
Hussein asked, “You can do that with milk, stupid, but not with water. Are you serious? Do you really believe you can turn the lake into yogurt?”
“I know I can’t. I know it won’t,” said Nasreddin. “But just imagine — what if I could, and what if it did?”

Get the softcover edition or the digital edition, now at BN.com.

New edition of *Uncommon Sense* now available

A new softcover edition of

The Uncommon Sense of the Immortal Mullah Nasruddin

is now available from Bear Bones Books on Amazon.com!

The Uncommon Sense of the Immortal Mullah Nasruddin, 2nd revised edition

The Kindle version of the new edition will be available very soon.

The audiobook, narrated by Ted Brooks, is still available from Audible.com.




Order your copy of the 2nd revised edition now!


Coming soon:

The first revised edition of

Extraordinary Adventures of Mullah Nasruddin

Ungrateful son of a donkey, part 2

A Mullah Nasruddin / Nasreddin Hoca story


Ungrateful son of a donkey, part 2

Mullah Nasruddin
Mullah Nasruddin


[Continued from last week]

*    *     *

So Nasruddin traveled to see the Sultan in the great city of Woden, there was a very important king. Mullah entered the palace and came to the royal assembly.

He saw the king, bowed, and sat down among the people. Then he looked at the king, and whispered aloud, “Ahh, this is my son!”

Then he turned to other courtiers nearby, and said again, “Ahh, this is my son!” A few persons heard and reacted with shock.

The Mullah then spoke aloud, “Yes indeed, no doubt that is my son.”

Most of the courtiers heard it, but no one thought much of it, or perhaps they thought that the strange mullah was confused. But he continued repeating the same words, “This is my son.”

Shortly one of the courtiers came up to Nasruddin and asked him, “Pardon me, kind Mullah, what did you say?”

Nasruddin stood up, pointed to the Sultan, and announced, “This indeed is my son!”

This scandalized everyone in court, and the enraged Sultan declared, “Lock this madman up!”

Now Mullah was seized and bound with ropes on her arms and legs. As they were trying to subdue him, he said, “The children of donkeys have no gratitude. You, Sultan, are you not the son of my ass? Have I not made you and given you to the teacher so that he could teach you? Now you get a royal title, and I’m tied up. If you’ll let me go, I swear I’ll go right to your mother and cut off her tail!”

The Sultan became even angrier and ordered his men, “Take him out of here and execute him immediately!”

The vizier, a very wise man, intervened, He whispered to the Sultan, “It is better if you let this fool go, because clearly he does not know what he’s saying. No man with any brains can utter such words in your Majesty’s presence.” Thus Mullah was freed from his shackles, taken to the city limits, and released.

Finally he returned to Halil and told him, “Your words are true. The children of donkeys have no gratitude. The son of my ass got the kingship, and while in court he had his soldiers grab and restrain me. Now I am going to his mother and cut off her cursed tail. If you want it, I’ll give it to you for free. But first I must deal with the tail!”

The teacher replied, “Agreed. You must cut her tail off, because her son possesses no manners whatsoever. Then if you want to give me the tail, I’ll use it until I die.”

So Nasruddin went out to the stable, cut off Karakacan’s tail, and delivered it to the teacher.


Excerpted from

Extraordinary Adventures of Mullah Nasruddin
by Ron J. Suresha

now in print from Lethe Press


Ungrateful son of a donkey, part 1

A Mullah Nasruddin / Nasreddin Hoca story


Ungrateful son of a donkey

Mullah Nasruddin
Mullah Nasruddin

One day, the Mullah’s donkey, Karakacan, gave birth to a foal. Believing himself the father, Mullah thought, Since now I have two donkeys, I shall send my younger son to a teacher to instruct him, so he will be taught, he will learn to read, and he will come to teach me.

So Nasruddin took the young donkey to the schoolteacher, Halil, and told him, “This, my son, wants to be educated. Please tutor him so that he will be less a fool than me.”

Halil replied in astonishment, “What are you asking me? This son of a donkey should be taught

Nasruddin just nodded.

“Well, pay me up front my proper tuition fee, plus room and board. Then I’ll gladly accept your son as a pupil and teach him everything I know.”

So Nasruddin counted out to Halil an exorbitant payment. The teacher took the reins of the donkey and told the Mullah, “Now go in peace. Do not worry, I will take care of your child and teach him well. I will treat him as if he were my own son.”

After Mullah left, Halil said to his wife, “That Nasruddin has gone completely out of his wits. I have never seen such idiocy. Everyone knows that you can’t teach the son of an ass not to be an ass.”

The next day, Halil took Nasruddin’s son of a donkey to the cattle market and sold it.

Nasruddin patiently waited a week, and then impatiently another three days, then he went to the teacher. When he arrived, he saw that his son was not anywhere to be found, so he asked Halil, “Where has your student gone?”

The teacher replied, “He is not here. I sent him not far from here, him and his friend, on an errand. But rest assured, he is progressing well in his studies and is very popular with the other students.”

“That’s good to hear. I was afraid he would misbehave with you as often as his mother has troubled me,” said the Mullah. “I’m going now, but I’ll return to check on him in ten days. “

Halil said, “Go ahead home and enjoy yourself. Your son has not told us he is lacking in any way. Rest assured he is in good hands.”

So Nasruddin walked home, and in ten days he returned to Halil’s house.

When he arrived he saw that his son was not there, so he asked, “Where has my son, your student, gone?”

Halil embraced the Mullah and said proudly, “Congratulations! Your son turned out to be one of my finest students. Simply brilliant. He was graduated with honors.”

Mullah was very pleased to hear that his son was a diligent student, and he asked the teacher, “When will I be able to see him? I have missed him all these weeks.”

Halil replied, “In fact, your son is no longer here. I sent him to another city to instruct other students of mine. Your son has become a very accomplished legal scholar and you should be very proud of him.”

“I am indeed a proud father, Halil, just as you must be a proud teacher of such an outstanding pupil. But I would like to be able to see him and talk with him about certain domestic affairs. The boy has not seen his father in months now, and I am certain he would like to see his mother as well.”

“Nasruddin, now that your son has become an authority on certain aspects of law, his time is truly at a premium. Go back home now, I will write him a letter to ask that you may come to him. Then I’ll write you a letter and let you know when and where you can meet him.”

Nasruddin said, “Okay then, I’ll just wait to hear from you.”

The Mullah returned home. He waited many days and weeks, but he saw no letter from the teacher and no greeting. He went to the teacher and said to him, “Well, Halil, here I am.”

The teacher said, “Just today I was going to write you a letter to give you a very nice message from your son.”

Mullah said, “Really? Come on, tell me what he wrote to you!”

Halil informed him, “It’s absolutely fabulous news. You won’t believe it.”

“Try me.”

“Your son wrote that last week he and his entourage moved to the capitol city. He has just been appointed the Sultan.”

This news well pleased Nasruddin, who said, “I shall now go and visit my son.”

The teacher replied, “All right, go see your son. He is in a city called Woden. But when you arrive there, do not tell anyone that you are his father, for he now holds significant title and prestige. If you go see him in court, definitely don’t identify yourself as his parent. It would be considered the height of rudeness. Also if you speak to him at the wrong moment, he’ll be sure to have you whipped within an inch of your life.”

Nasruddin became very angry and declared, “I’ll go see him, and talk to him about anything I like, and I am not afraid of him attacking me!”

So Nasruddin traveled to see the Sultan …

[continued next week]

Excerpted from

Extraordinary Adventures of Mullah Nasruddin
by Ron J. Suresha

now in print from Lethe Press


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NSRfrcovawardstickersHappy July!
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Small consolation

A Mullah Nasruddin / Nasreddin Hoca story


Small consolation

Mullah Nasruddin
Mullah Nasruddin

One day as Nasruddin was traveling, he met on the road an elderly Turkman who halted him and asked, “Tell me, sir, are you a mullah?”

Nasruddin answered, “Yes, as it so happens, I am.”

The fellow clasped his hands and implored him, “Our small tribe has no imam. Please come with me to our village, and you can serve our tribe as our spiritual leader.”

Nasruddin agreed, and so the men continued on their journey. After they had walked for hours, they came to a crossroads, where they happened to meet another fellow, a rather brawny Turkman with an ink-black beard, riding a donkey. He asked the first Turkman, “Who is this man with you?”

Holding Nasruddin’s hand, the elder smiled and answered, “He is our beloved new imam. I’m taking him right now to our tribe, which has been without a religious leader for more than a year.”

The second Turkman jumped off his donkey and came up to the men. “You must surrender this mullah to us. My tribe hasn’t had an imam in nine years.” And he grabbed the mullah’s other wrist.

“Screw you, loser,” said the first man, pulling hard on Nasruddin’s arm. “We recruited him hours ago.”

“Let go of him, you filthy swine,” the second one yelled, yanking the Mullah’s arm in the other direction, “my tribe needs him more. Give him to us!”

As the men argued, they pulled the Mullah back and forth like a rope in a tug of war, wrenching his arms.

Finally, the second man pulled out a huge knife and yelled, “Enough! Release him, or I’ll slit his throat. That way, he’ll be of no benefit to either your tribe or ours.”

The Mullah, caught between a Turk and a hard place, trembled with fear.

The first man, not backing down in the least, said to the Mullah, “Don’t worry, effendi — I hereby swear, if this bastard kills you, I’ll murder his donkey to avenge your death!”


Excerpted from

Extraordinary Adventures of Mullah Nasruddin
by Ron J. Suresha

now in print from Lethe Press


Review of Extraordinary Adventures of Mullah Nasruddin

Extraordinary Adventures of Mullah Nasruddin
reviewed in Out In Print

XNS frcoverLamfinalsealExtraordinary Adventures of Mullah Nasruddin, which was named a Finalist in this year’s Lambda Literary Awards, has reviewed its first full review by Keith John Glaeske in Out In Print, on June 8, 2015.

Here are two brief excerpts from the first and last paragraphs of the review, with our thanks to the author and publisher for their permission to reprint the material.

In 2011, Ron Suresha published The Uncommon Sense of the Immortal Mullah Nasruddin . . . Now he has collected 257 additional tales, many translated into English for the first time, for a companion volume entitled Extraordinary Adventures of Mullah Nasruddin.  Suresha’s second collection of Mullah Nasruddin lore, however, is more than a mere continuation of the tales found in the first volume, as explained by the subtitle:  Naughty, unexpurgated tales of the beloved wise fool from the Middle and Far East.  Here, then, are the tales that have been expunged from collections of modern translations of Mullah Nasruddin, due to the scatological, ethnic, racial, and/or sexist humor contained therein.  . . .

And this from the closing:

Naturally, this collection will appeal to any reader who appreciates a good fart joke or merkin story, but it will also prove valuable to students of folklore and/or Islamic culture; storytellers; and seekers of wisdom.  To this end, Suresha includes a bibliographical list of his sources, and a glossary of terms that might be unknown to the general reader, for those who might be inspired to follow the Mullah Nasruddin, perched sitting backwards upon his beloved donkey.

We thank Mr Glaeske for his kind review, and Out In Print for running the piece, which you can read in its entirety here.

doublestar-crescent smile

Extraordinary Adventures of Mullah Nasruddin
by Ron J. Suresha

Lethe Press

ISBN 1-59021-464-1



Extraordinary Adventures of Mullah Nasruddin named Lammy Finalist

Extraordinary Adventures of Mullah Nasruddin named Finalist in 27th annual Lambda Literary Awards


June 1, 2015 — The prestigious Lambda Literary Awards (the “Lammys”) has honored Extraordinary Adventures of Mullah Nasruddin, authored by Ron J. Suresha and published 2014 by Lethe Press, as a Finalist for Excellence in Bisexual Fiction.

LammyfinalistThe author wishes to thank his husband, Rocco, for his unending support.

XNS frcoverfinalmedRead the complete LLF announcement here.

The power of chalk

A Mullah Nasruddin / Nasreddin Hoca story

In memory of our fallen heroes: those who threw themselves under the chalklines because someone else was making up the rules of play in the insane asylum.

The power of chalk

Mullah Nasruddin
Mullah Nasruddin

Once, Mullah Nasruddin was chalking a political slogan on the wall of a building in Konya when the corrupt local constable caught him and dragged him into jail. His queer appearance and illogical behavior led to his being certified insane, and so he was transferred to the regional mental asylum.
The asylum, of course, was filled with every sort of depraved and perverted lunatic. As soon as the Mullah entered the courtyard, the inmates crowded around him as if he were carrion and they were buzzards circling, ready to land. He could smell their soiled clothes and rancid breath as they came closer.
Finally, Nasruddin held up his hands to repel the sociopaths and shouted, “Stop, you fiends!” He pulled from his pocket his offensive piece of chalk. “Stand back, or else!” he hissed, brandishing the chalk as if it were a knife. The crazies halted in their spots.
Moving quickly, Nasruddin drew a line across the courtyard dividing the inmates evenly into two groups. Returning to the center he announced, “Pay attention, people! Here are the new rules. Now, does everyone clearly see the chalkline on the ground‽”
The men nodded and grunted their mutual assent.
“Good. So, the first and only rule of the game is this: on my call, all of you must jump under that line. The first man who makes it under, wins this chalk, and gets to make up the next game.” He walked to the periphery of the two teams, saying, “I will say when to begin. Ready, set, go.”
The casualties were severe as both teams went berserk and threw themselves repeatedly at the line and at each other.
Nasruddin was released. Nobody was quite sure whether it was because they could not allow further injuries of the inmates, or because his resourcefulness proved his sanity.

Excerpted from

XNS frcoverLamfinalsealExtraordinary Adventures of Mullah Nasruddin
by Ron J. Suresha

now in print from Lethe Press


Preface to Extraordinary Adventures, part 2

Preface, part 2

An excerpt from Extraordinary Adventures of Mullah Nasruddin

XNS frcoverLamfinalsealby Ron J. Suresha

Concluded from previous week

While researching the topic of taboo humor I discovered, in The Horn Book by folklore and humor scholar Gershon Legman, his stark condemnation of folk story and joke collections with all the bawdy or “objectionable” material expunged, which he calls “fakelore.” Despite my earnest efforts to locate such risqué stories with limited success, I naturally cringed at the implication that I had unwittingly committed some sort of literary and folkloric misdeed by excluding the naughty and nasty tales of my old friend, Mullah Nasruddin.
Given the immense volume of this character’s folklore, I was perplexed by the conspicuous absence of adult-themed stories among the hundreds I had indexed. The dearth of racy, earthy, profane, or ethnic material in the existing published folklore available to me seemed due in part to its exclusion from popular children’s presentations of the often-moralizing Mullah. My theory was that these “naughty Nasreddin” narratives were expurgated from popular representations of Nasreddin in an effort to “reform” the character, according to the moral codes imposed by both Islamist and Turkish nationalistic influences.
German Nasreddin scholar Ulrich Marzolph’s 1998 analysis, “What Is Folklore Good For?” asserts that “Early Turkish manuscripts comprised a large amount of sexual, scatological, and otherwise disputable material” about the “vigorous and vulgar” Mullah (1998, p. 7). With that concept in mind, I delved even deeper into scholarly texts in search of this taboo material.
Though the character’s Ottoman-Turkish name is Nasreddin Hoca, cognates such as Mullah or Sheikh Nasruddin, Djuha, Joha, Hodja, Abu Nuwas, and so on populate the folklore of many Asian, African, European, and other lands worldwide and share their narratives, so there are diverse cultural sources contributing to this collection. I refer to the character throughout the text as Mullah Nasruddin because that is how I first came to know him.
The most readily accessible bawdy Nasreddin stories employ scatological, ethnic, racial, and sexist humor. Tales involving Nasreddin’s wife and marital affairs are most prevalent, and many feature her as the sexual aggressor. The “young Nasruddin” tales often portray his pubescent sexual explorations and cunning sexual exploitation of women. Sexual stories involving Nasreddin’s donkey make up a third recurring theme. Oddly, storylines with overtly homosexual themes were most difficult to unearth: even putting out a call for such jokes among today’s Istanbul’s gay and bisexual men’s “bear” community yielded no results.
Other critical essays affirmed that these stories existed, although apparently not in contemporary English texts. Turkish scholar Seyfi Karabas observed that “erotic elements in Nasreddin Hoca narratives fulfill several important functions. To begin with, they point to various early stages in the development of Nasreddin Hoca as a trickster figure. Secondly, they serve to create humor in several ways” (p. 303). Aside from the issue of the trickster archetype, it is clear that examples of racy tales existed in the Nasreddin folklore corpus: the question was where.
A breakthrough in my research occurred with a fortunate connection early in 2014 with Hakkı Gűrkaş, a Nasreddin Hoca and Turkish Studies scholar teaching at Kennesaw College in Georgia, U.S.A. In his brilliant, wide-ranging dissertation, he refutes the characterization of Nasreddin as a trickster figure, namely due to the lack of any sort of shape-shifting powers ascribed to him. That point aside, Karabas sagely concludes that “awareness of the importance of sexuality in the life of human beings is one of the more persistent themes that help unify the whole corpus of the Nasreddin Hoca narratives. Hence, Nasreddin Hoca should not be laundered” (p. 305).
But changing social forces of eight hundred years has taken Nasreddin Hoca’s dirty laundry to the river and thrown it religiously against the rocks. This character purification began with linguistic and cultural changes brought in the transition from the Islamic Ottoman era to modern secular Turkish nationalism, and continued through the advent of printing and selective exclusion of objectionable material from published story collections. Over the centuries, Nasreddin “transformed into a charming and subtle philosopher,” according to Marzolph, “whose major preoccupation would be to confront his surroundings with apparently strange questions or unconventional solutions to common problems” (p. 7).
Gűrkaş explains the significance of the censored material: “These stories bring back into discourse what the official culture has marginalized and repressed. These stories are anti-hegemonic. The grotesque imagery deployed in these stories mocks and ridicules the absolutist morality and degrades the official culture that relies on it” (p. 178).
In the spirit of intellectual freedom and restoration of the adulterated folklore, presented here are more than 265 authentic Nasreddin Hoca stories, many of which appear here in an English trade publication for the first time. From the first volume, I rewrote over a dozen tales, according to verified alternate sources: for instance, the long tale “Four brays of the donkey” here is “Four farts”; this version of “God’s arrears to Nasruddin” has a Jewish protagonist; the sexual overtones in “The hens in the hammam” here are stated more fully. Some stories are not particularly naughty, but come from reliable sources newly available and are worth including here among the first and final sections of the Mullah’s adventures.
All narratives herein are based on published texts listed in the Sources; none of the tales presented in this or the first collection are my original or creative invention. Whenever multiple tellings of a joke or anecdote were available, they were incorporated into this work. However, for some stories I had to rely on a translation of one or two versions and my ability to interpret its cultural context and narrative arc. I have tried to convey the bawdy wit and folk wisdom of the Mullah as may have been presented and received, centuries ago, halfway around the world, by the original storytellers and listeners.
As in the previous collection, here I employ the literary device of naming the Mullah’s family, friends, neighbors, and donkey as a way to situate him in his community. Readers may take issue with the intensity and frequency of the colloquial profanity and slang invective in some dialogue; the foul language, however, is comparable to that as translated from authentic sources, albeit adapted to contemporary usage.
As exhaustive as this work may have been, this sequel and its predecessor do not represent the entire Nasreddin corpus. There are dozens of stories untranslatable from Turkish, German, Arabic, and other languages that remain inaccessible in English. Additionally, a handful of stories effectively translated, but requiring overlong cultural, religious, or wordplay explanations, must be left for another’s work.
This collection leads with “The learned and the ignorant,” a tale that proclaims its moral imperative, “Those who know should teach those who don’t know,” which represents a common creed of folklore and literature. In researching, collecting, translating, and publishing these stories, I have acquired not only the authority to disseminate the work but also a keen sense of duty. For far too long the social forces that repress sexual and other “undesirable” story elements have hidden this cache of some of the most amusing, witty, and outrageous folklore in the world.
I close this introduction with the words of the great American poet, Walt Whitman: “The dirtiest book of all is the expurgated book.” Doubtless the Mullah would agree.

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Works cited
Gűrkaş, Hakkı. Nasreddin Hodja and the Akşehir Festival: Invention of a Festive Tradition and Transfigurations of a Trickster, from Bukhara to Brussels. Ph.D dissertation. West Lafayette, Ind.: Purdue University, 2008.
Karabas, Seyfi. “The Use of Eroticism in Nasreddin Hoca Anecdotes.” Western Folklore 49: 3 (July 1990), pp. 299–305. Long Beach, Calif.: Western States Folklore Society.
Legman, Gershon. The Horn Book: Studies in Erotic Folklore and Bibliography. New Hyde Park, N.Y.: University Books, 1964.
Marzolph, Ulrich. What Is Folklore Good For? On dealing with undesirable cultural expression. Journal of Folklore Research, 35: 1 (Jan.–Apr. 1998), pp. 5–16.
Whitman, Walt. Leaves of Grass. New York: New American Library, 1980.

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