“A funny, bawdy, occasionally gruesome, and decidedly adult collection that celebrates small cultural variations amid large universal values.” — Kirkus Reviews
“[T]hese tales are radiant with sunlight and flowers, jinns and spirits, palaces and sultans… the themes will resonate with anyone who loves fairy tales and folklore… An absolute delight for readers young and old.” —Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
“Many times these stories express a desire to upend power structures…One could look for hints of protofeminism or use for comparative literature or read for pure enjoyment. The author’s and translator’s notes are helpful for appreciating the tales as expressions of women who had no voice except among themselves.”—Booklist
“Here a young woman slaps a suitor, transporting him back to his old life; the daughter of the sun and the moon commands objects with her voice; Thuraya, a long-haired woman trapped in a tower by a beastly ghoul, escapes with her lover by transforming everyday objects into a forest, a fire, an enormous lake… Filled with magic and cultural insight, the stories collected in Pearls on a Branch should be read aloud, explored and thoroughly enjoyed.” — The (Iowa) Gazette
“The folkloric stories in Pearls on a Branch feature protagonists, often young women, who work to shape their future through generosity and cleverness…. Female protagonists are agents of peace but also indelibly clever, demonstrating the humor, alternately ribald and subtle, at work in the lives of the tellers…. Even the stories without a female protagonist are concerned with how women exercise power in the world and shape their own narratives.” — Sara Ramey, World Literature Today
“The stories of Pearls on a Branch vary from fairy tale-esque to curiously compelling or comic… These fantastic tales are culturally intriguing, and particularly notable for acknowledging the unique voices of Lebanese women, past and present.” — Foreword Reviews
“After twenty years the final curtain was lowered on Sanduk el Fergeh. The pursuit of stories, however, continued for memory and for pleasure. These are stories that belong to the human heritage. They are expressions of a distinctive cultural milieu. The notions of good and evil, for example, are not as categorical in them as in Western folktales. Fairies and witches have no equivalent in Arabic; instead there are magicians, male and female, good and bad. An old woman or an ancient man often are ogres, addressed as “Uncle Ogre” or “Mother Ogre.” A hero can tame them through his courtesy and deeds.
These stories have an identity all their own. I had no right to keep them hidden in my drawers; I felt it a duty to share them. I hope that they will give the reader as much pleasure as I had listening to them.” — Najla Khoury