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The Storyteller of Marrakeshby Joydeep Roy Bhattacharya
Synopses & 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 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, is an elegant exploration of the nature of reality and our shifting perceptions of truth.
"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.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
A stunning U.S. debut--a literary mystery set in the fabled city square of Marrakesh.
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.
[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 Marrakeshoffers an agreeable change of pace.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.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.
About the Author
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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