The Storyteller of Marrakesh

( 4 )

Overview

Each year, the storyteller, Hassan, gathers listeners to the city square to share their recollections of a young, foreign couple who mysteriously disappeared years earlier. As various witnesses describe their encounters with the couple—their tales overlapping, confirming, and contradicting each other—Hassan hopes to light upon details that will explain what happened to them, and to absolve his own brother, who is in prison for their disappearance.

As testimonies circle an ...

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The Storyteller of Marrakesh

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Overview

Each year, the storyteller, Hassan, gathers listeners to the city square to share their recollections of a young, foreign couple who mysteriously disappeared years earlier. As various witnesses describe their encounters with the couple—their tales overlapping, confirming, and contradicting each other—Hassan hopes to light upon details that will explain what happened to them, and to absolve his own brother, who is in prison for their disappearance.

As testimonies circle an elusive truth, the couple takes on an air as enigmatic as their fate. But is this annual storytelling ritual a genuine attempt to uncover the truth, or is it intended instead to weave an ambiguous mythology around a crime?

The first in an ambitious cycle of novels set in the Islamic world, The Storyteller of Marrakesh is an elegant exploration of the nature of reality and our shifting perceptions of truth.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The disappearance of a pair of tourists from Marrakesh's famous Jemaa el Fna is at the heart of Roy-Bhattacharya's misguided American debut, the first volume in a projected series. Hassan, a storyteller who makes his living on the square, begins his tale of the missing tourists, but as his version clashes with his gathered listeners' memories, they take over the narrative. The result is a muddle of contradicting details, minor characters relating portentous dreams, long digressions into largely unnecessary backstories, and swaths of overripe prose from which it emerges that Hassan's brother is in prison because of the disappearance, and that while Hassan believes in his brother's innocence, others think Hassan's tales are just an attempt to weave "a mythology around a crime" that itself remains vague. These heavily underlined questions about the nature of truth unfortunately end up being little more than posturing: in the end, one authoritative account trumps all others. The most surprising thing about this literary mystery set in the medina of Marrakesh is how dull it manages to be. (Jan.)
The New York Times Book Review
“An enigmatic fable in the tradition of The Thousand and One Nights....[Roy-Bhattacharya] has clearly immersed himself in the richness of Moroccan life and history. It makes a lively home for his questing imagination.”
Booklist
“[A] broad, discursive, plausible, and often beguiling presentation of a contemporary Islamic culture little changed by centuries, geopolitics, globalization or religious enmity. Roy-Battacharya’s descriptive powers are acute, and Marrakesh, the Djemaa, the Sahara, and the High Atlas Mountains are vividly rendered through all the senses. In a time when tensions between Islam and the West are fevered, The Storyteller of Marrakesh offers an agreeable change of pace.”
Library Journal
This tale about the disappearance of a beautiful foreigner one night in Marrakesh is told by Hassan, a traditional Moroccan storyteller. Hassan's brother Mustafa is in prison for this crime, and once a year, the storyteller tries to reconstruct the evening of her disappearance for his listeners. As he weaves his tale, people in the audience contribute their memories of the evening, many of them conflicting. Was the woman blond or dark-haired? Was she modest, or did she behave like a clueless foreigner? Each bit of evidence is like a piece of mosaic tile, creating an even more complex design. Each person's testimony adds to the creation of a mythic story that will be recounted for generations. And yet on a personal level, the retelling is Hassan's method of mythologizing his brother and keeping his memory alive. VERDICT The author's first novel, The Gabriel Club, which was published in 16 countries, was also somewhat of an unsolved mystery, told with multiple threads. Steeped in the ambience of Marrakesh, this exotic metafictional tale marks Roy-Bhattacharya's U.S. debut and will appeal to readers of complex narratives by unreliable narrators. Lovers of mysteries with ambiguous endings will also enjoy this novel. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/10.]—Andrea Kempf, Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, KS
Anderson Tepper
…an enigmatic fable in the tradition of The Thousand and One Nights, an extended examination of its own narrative powers in which the stories within the stories come to resemble an intricate, miniaturist design…Roy-Bhattacharya…has clearly immersed himself in the richness of Moroccan life and history. It makes a lively home for his questing imagination.
—The New York Times
Thomas Gaughan - Booklist
“Roy-Bhattacharya’s descriptive powers are acute, and Marrakesh, the Djemaa, the Sahara, and the High Atlas Mountains are vividly rendered through all the senses.”
Russ Mayes - Richmond Examiner
“A multilayered novel that juxtaposes the artistry of narration with a collision of cultures in the Jemaa. . . . Lyrical.”
From the Publisher

Editor's Choice. "An enigmatic fable in the tradition of The Thousand and One Nights." - The New York Times

"[A] broad, discursive, plausible, and often beguiling presentation of a contemporary Islamic culture little changed by centuries, geopolitics, globalization or religious enmity. Roy-Battacharya’s descriptive powers are acute, and Marrakesh, the Djemaa, the Sahara, and the High Atlas Mountains are vividly rendered through all the senses. In a time when tensions between Islam and the West are fevered, The Storyteller of Marrakesh offers an agreeable change of pace." - Booklist

"Steeped in the ambiance of Marrakesh, this exotic metafictional tale marks Roy-Bhattacharya’s U.S. debut and will appeal to readers of complex narratives by unreliable narrators. Lovers of mysteries with ambiguous endings will also enjoy this novel." - Library Journal

"...a mosaic of stories winningly delivered by Gerard Kyle. Kyle’s facility with portraying nationality and gender makes his narration a delight. He juggles dozens of characters, as well as Roy-Bhattacharya’s elevated language, with a profound elegance." - AudioFile Magazine

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393070583
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/31/2011
  • Pages: 341
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya

Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya was born in Jamshedpur, India, and lives in New York. His first novel, The Gabriel Club, was published in eight languages in sixteen countries.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2014

    To Number 2

    You didn't.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2012

    Why is the e-book more expensive than the paperback and so much

    Why is the e-book more expensive than the paperback and so much more expensive than the Kindle e-book? Makes me wonder if I made a huge mistake in purchasing the Nook instead of Kindle.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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