These then are not Disneyfied tales of wish-granting tricksters, but stories of people burning like djinn and djinn as fiery people. The collection ranges widely in style and perspective, making room for the title poem by the Egyptian writer Hermes as well as poetic prose by the Canadian writer Amal El-Mohtar and a distinctly feminist take on wizards and harem intrigue by the British fantasy writer Claire North ... Nearly all of the stories are haunting, reflective and firelight-beautiful, but there are standouts. Jamal Mahjoub’s 'Duende 2077' is the most explicitly rebellious simply for its premise, which posits a futuristic Caliphate after the fall of Christian/Western hegemony. Nnedi Okorafor’s 'History' is gloriously gonzo, following an Ibo-trained African-American sorceress as she gives the performance of her career to an audience of literal gods ... Exquisite and audacious, and highly recommended.
The authors weave the magical beings into their own cultures, some taking heavy hints from The Arabian Nights, others using djinn as an abstract, heavy longing to belong or as a haunting presence on Mars. The djinn is used to explore topics such as women’s sexuality and the disconnect between modern warfare and human lives. Neil Gaiman fans will recognize his contribution, an excerpt from American Gods, but the true standouts include Saad Z. Hossain’s 'Bring Your Own Spoon,' a tale that depicts a dystopian- and disease-ridden future where a man and his djinn friend decide to start a restaurant ... Together, these fantasy stories offer a rich and illuminating cultural experience.
Their love for this work shines through in the care with which they’ve selected and arranged the stories ... Any anthology is going to have its standouts. And its duds. For me, there are only two stories in The Djinn Falls in Love that fall flat ... But there are numerous outstanding stories here. Kamila Shamsie’s 'The Congregation' opens the collection on a strong and striking note. J.Y. Yang’s 'Glass Lights' is a bittersweet story of wishes and loneliness, and a woman who can make others’ wishes come true, but not her own. (It’s gorgeously written.) Saad Z. Hossein’s 'Bring Your Own Spoon' is an affecting, uplifting story of friendship, fellowship, and food in a dystopian future ... I really enjoyed this anthology. It is—here’s that word again—gorgeous. Its individual stories are mostly really good, and it has a strong sense of itself as a whole. This thematic coherence adds an extra element to the anthology as a whole: not just the individual stories, but their arrangement and relation to each other, have something to say.