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The Storyteller of Marrakesh

3.17 of 5 stars 3.17  ·  rating details  ·  458 ratings  ·  107 reviews
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 the ...more
Hardcover, 340 pages
Published January 31st 2011 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published January 1st 2011)
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Dreams of Trespass by Fatema MernissiA House in Fez by Suzanna ClarkeThe Caliph's House by Tahir ShahThe Sheltering Sky by Paul BowlesA Street in Marrakech by Elizabeth Warnock Fernea
Books set in, or about, Morocco
6th out of 22 books — 12 voters
The Sense of an Ending by Julian BarnesThe Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWittBefore I Go to Sleep by S.J. WatsonWhen God was a Rabbit by Sarah WinmanThe Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje
Man Booker Prize Eligible 2011
91st out of 154 books — 269 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,262)
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Tea Jovanović
Super knjiga... Ima i nastavke... Prodala sam je pre nekoliko godina Deretu, trebalo bi da su je već objavili... :)
This was an enchanting book in every sense of the word. I was charmed by the weaving of the storyline in and out. I felt as if I was in Marrakesh weaving in and out of the alleyways and souks.

Every year the storyteller comes to Marrakesh to relate a story of a foreign couple who disappeared years before. He comes in search of solving the mystery by relating and engaging the audience in remember their view of that night. Every year it is with a different effect.

This book has an Arabian Night fe
Hillary Major
The mystery element and the voices of and collaboration among the storyteller, Hassan, and his listeners make this novel compelling. Will those who find themselves in the Jemaa el Fna be able to solve the puzzle of the disappeared strangers? Will our narrator turn out to be a puppeteer manipulating the evening's events? Or will the novel bear out Hassan's father's advice that "a story must not have a clean resolution"? Suspense and contemplation, philosophy, fiction, and myth mingle as the tale ...more
So I never actually finished this book. I only made it about 100 pages in, but it was that bad. 100 horrible, slow, painful pages and I do not regret NOT finishing this book. I can't wait to sell it back. (Sorry to my fellow book club readers.) This is the literary equivalent of gouging your eyes out with a half-teaspoon.
Hmmm. Two stars "it was ok".
Never reached the levels promised by the quote on the cover "An enigmatic fable in the tradition of The Thousand and One Nights", the New York Times. Never even got close. The Thousand and One Nights (which, yes, I am still only 3/4 of the way through) is brilliant, contains multiple stories and stories within stories. This has a few side stories, but largely just rehashes the telling of a foreign couples single night in the Jemaa (market square) of Marrakesh. These a
The following extract appears on page 307 of this novel, a mere 20 pages from the end:

"I listened to you with a growing desbelief that soon turned to anger. Your story was not onlu salubrious, it was a thoroughly misbegotten endeavor. There was nothing in it to emulate, no universal values or aspirations, nothing - nothing at all - worth salvaging. If there was any truth in it, it lay in its level of degredation, truly one of a kind."

My sentiments exactly after reading this book!! For someone li
Manu Prasad
The book begins with the proposition that there is no truth, and only opinion. This is a fundamental premise of the book and important from the perspective of its narration. Hassan, the primary narrator begins his story at the Jemaa el Fna, surrounded by his listeners, the motive behind the narration supposedly to prove the innocence of his brother Mustafa, who is in jail for a crime he seemingly did not commit. It involves the disappearance of an exceedingly beautiful woman who tantalised all t ...more
The Storyteller of Marrakesh
By Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya
4 stars
pp. 341

During a journey to the medina (old city) of Marrakesh in the Jemaa el Fna (the square) one might find a market, snake charmers, beggars, restaurants, jugglers and storytellers and this is where Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya takes the reader to introduce Hassan, the storyteller.

The reader is given a taste of evenings storytelling. Hassan recounts the tale of to foreigners who visited the Jemaa and vanished. This is a mystery for the
I didn't hate this book. Nor did I like it. At first, I was a little worried I didn't understand it, but I don't think that is the case either. The book wants to emulate the living traditions of telling stories out loud with a group of people, investigating all the different aspects, all the different truths of a matter, because everyone has a slightly different perspective. But it's executed pretty poorly.

It suffers from what I thought Les Miserables suffered from when I read that. There are m
Did not find this magical. Frustrating read. Felt that the narrative was trying too hard to be enchanting. I felt anger at the repeated beauty of the woman--of course she was the typical standard of beauty. Why couldn't she be Asian? Or, for that matter, any other ethnic grouping? What I did enjoy was the various types of people that were woven in the tale--the blue skinned man, the Berber, the fortune teller, etc. But, as stated, not one of my favorite reads. Although this is not a normal pract ...more
This book gives the impression that the author had a deep passion for Morocco and wanted to write about it but didn't have the expertise to craft a non-fiction travelogue so he decided to turn his random bits of info into a poorly executed novel. If the author had spent more time developing the characters so I cared about them, it would be possible to overlook the open ending. Alternatively, if he had created an actual plot line I could have overlooked the shallow characters.
Arindam Mallick
“Appearances to the mind are of four kinds. Things either are what they appear to be; or they neither are, nor appear to be; or they are, and do not appear to be; or they are not, and yet appear to be.” – Epictetus

Joydeep Ray-Bhttacharya’s ‘The Storyteller of Marrakesh’ begins with the proposition that there is no truth, only opinions and their diversity. Hassan, the story-teller and the first person in his narrative, states as much when he ploclaims – “Truth is that which inevitably contradicts
Murdo Morrison
The book has an interesting premise - the central character, Hassan, is a story teller of Berber descent who has come to the main square in the city of Marrakesh in Morocco to practice his art. The story he has chosen to tell relates to the apparent disappearance of a married couple who were visiting the city as tourists several years before. Throughout the long night of story telling the audience joins in, sharing their individual accounts of the events of that disappearance.

The book explores
An earlier version of this article was first published as Book Review: The Storyteller of Marrakesh by Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya on

This is one sensual piece of work. I initially grabbed this book from the New Releases section of the library, because I was intrigued by the Arabic calligraphy that is featured on the cover, but I ended up just spending 3 days reading this spectacular and magnificent work.

This is a novel that has many facets. First, one can say that this is a novel a
There are two things that make me really anxious about a book - a rainbow of different ratings, and a book about somewhere from someone who has no real connection to the place. I gave in though, basically because of the title, and hoped for the best. And my "bravery" was rewarded.

A few years ago, there was an interview on Swiss television with Syrian-German author Rafik Schami. The original topic was of course Syria's political situation, but the interviewer also delved into the differences betw
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 co ...more
This novel is constructed as a non-linear narrative, imitating the style of oral storytellers. it often digresses form the main point, and has a story within a story, within a story. Its easiest to just go with the flow when reading, then to flick back and forth, looking for clarifications and explanations. it does capture the mood and essence of Marrakesh
"Smoky" is the word that best describes this book. Although set in the present time, the immediate setting is by a campfire in a Moroccan town square on a winter night where a Berber storyteller tries to discover the truth & meaning in a relatively recent mystery that involves his brother. The author has a way with words, and takes a decidedly philosophical approach to truth and reality. Although the ending is less than satisfying for a book, there are some parallels that we would do well to ...more
Amit Gupta
Good books should give me a sensory head rush, they should set my brain rolling after a drab day at work. They should force me to think, don't allow me to breathe for a few moments. You know, a good book is one which should allow me to forget everything; be my boss, my work, my family, my worries. If such a thing happens, the book is working for me. Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya's lastest book is one such piece of literature which will not only provide you with an exciting story but gives you insight ...more
For 2/3 of the book, I really enjoyed the multiple story-tellers/eye witnesses and their embellished renditions of the what happened to the "foreigner" couple who mysteriously disappeared from the city square years earlier. But then the narrative turned into a treatise on love and beauty and then an essay on religious intolerance, which I thought diluted the impact of the main story line. It's well written, bordering on poetic at times, but the philosophical meanderings lost me in the final chap ...more
Won ARC from Firstreads.

I'm not sure if this was a love story, a mystery, or a book about Marakesh, and I'm not sure I care. The descriptions of places, times of day, and people really made the story come alive to me. I felt like I was part of the circle listening to the stories everyone was telling and trying to piece the events of one night together. I will definitely read more by this author and am excited that this is the start of a cycle of books.
Kaloyana Slavova
Начинът на писане на тази книга ми напомни много за приказките на Шехерезада - думите те пренасят в онзи свят, където миризмите на подправки, шумът на пазара, трепетът на океана, пясъците на пустинята, къщите на скромните семейства, звънът на занаятите и всичко останало е живо. Там хората са добри, истински човеци, имат воля, добро възпитание, морал състрадание и човещина, далечни от Западния свят. Хареса ми как разказвачът от Маракеш събира тези хора на Джама - където е събран целият им свят и ...more
Whilst wandering the stacks at my local library, I came upon this book. In my experience, books you never ever intended to read can be the most fulfilling reads. Be it random books found by accident, books that friends insist you read, or books on a school reading list, sometimes those you never thought of end up being vastly rewarding. THE STORYTELLER OF MARRAKESH doesn't fall into the same category as, say, INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN or FEED, but I would still add it to my list of unexpected tr ...more
I would give this 2 1/2 stars. Enjoyed reading about the city and the country as I have visited there but the stories themselves told by the storyteller failed to keep my attention. I really wanted to love this book but I didn't.
So I read about 30 pages of this book and just couldn't get into it. It was due back at the library and I decided that it was not interesting enough for me to renew it and try to get through. Blah.
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, ...more
Matthew Preston
In the Jemma in Marrakech, Hassan weaves a deeply personal tale about the disappearance of two young lovers; a disappearance for which his headstrong brother is in prison. The tale weaves the textures of the inky night with rhythmic drumming and the hot sand off the Sahara. Loss, both that of the family in Mustafa's non-conformity and the heartbreak of lost love colour and inform the mysticism and dreams that foreshadow the inescapable fate of a doom long past. Is truth in facts or in the human ...more
I love the premise of this book - a demonstration of how one event can be so different in the memories of the various onlookers. The main character is a storyteller who engages his listeners by having them share their own memories of the same event, while he enriches the stories they tell by giving us some of their individual histories. What I would have enjoyed more was getting a better feel for the history of Marrakesh,the place that is the backdrop for the story. There is so much culture and ...more
Chantal Hintze
‘Each of us carries deep within ourselves a chamber filled with secret memories, and it is a place we would rather not reveal.’ With these words, Hassan evokes within his captive audience memories of a night long passed and invites his listeners, who soon, one by one, take centre stage and become storytellers in their own right, to unearth the truth about two missing foreigners.

Set in the Jemma el Fnaa, this modern day fable is as enigmatic and captivating as Marrakesh’s square itself and Roy-B
Patti K
A 2011 novel that explores the disappearance of a foreign couple from Marrakesh's
fabled city square. Each year, Hassan, from a long line of storytellers, tells of
their enigmatic presence and their unsolved disappearance. Each listener has their
own version and the story is a story within a story within. Exploring the nature
of identity and reality is the purpose of this tale. It is also a love song to the
wild and vast desert. A lyrical quality pervades the telling.
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Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya was educated in politics and philosophy at Presidency College, Calcutta, and the University of Pennsylvania. His novels The Gabriel Club and The Storyteller of Marrakesh have been published in fourteen languages. He lives in the Hudson Valley in upstate New York.
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