Review: The Storyteller of Marrakesh

The Storyteller of Marrakesh
The Storyteller of Marrakesh by Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Last week the latest addition to our household arrived, our first Kindle. This was something I’d resisted for some time, despite my geek credentials. I love books, proper books, hold in the hands and smell and savour books with covers and pages, no swiping required. Ereaders were, to my point of view, second class and to be shunned! But then Amazon offered us a coupon with mooney off, and in a moment of weakness I succumbed. Having tried it, I’m a convert! Not a complete convert, you understand, but I’ve come into the light and realised that these are just as valid ways of consuming books, just different. For those who are concerned, I still love ‘proper’ books and haven’t given up on them in the slightest.

So what to read first on our new Kindle. ‘The Storyteller of Marrakesh’ seemed a suitable first choice. This is a delightful read, a rich tapestry of colour and senses, and all about stories and truth – entirely fitting for my first Kindle outing. The storyteller in question is Hassan, who plies his trade in the Jemaa el Fna, the square. The story for this particular night is that of a foreign couple who visit this Moroccan centre to savour the atmosphere only to fall foul of some misfortune. As Hassan skilfully weaves his narrative, others join in, enlarging, dissenting, piecing together the events of that fateful night layer by layer.

I was totally entranced by this novel, both on the level of its narrative, which I found enticing and intriguing, and it’s exploration of the nature of truth and story, and it’s involvement of both teller and audience in shaping and interpreting it. I found the writing successfully conjured up the foreign atmosphere of Morocco and left me wanting to know more.

My favourite quote? As a preacher and rpg-gamer this particular passage caught my attention:

‘A story is like a dance. It takes at least two people to make it come to life, the one who does the telling and the one who does the listening. Sometimes the roles are reversed, and the giver becomes the taker. We both do the talking, we both listen, and even the silences become loaded.’ (Roy-Bhattacharya, Joydeep (2012-03-16). Storyteller of Marrakesh, The (p. 8). Alma Books. Kindle Edition.)

That dance is a very familiar one to me as a story-teller in my own right.

Thank you for the dance ! It was a delightful whirl across the floor. I look forward to another sometime.

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