x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

The Storyteller of Marrakesh

The Storyteller of Marrakesh has moments of beauty, particularly in descriptions of the city, but the disjointed narrative makes for a bumpy ride.

After a brief soliloquy on truth, Hassan, Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya's narrator, introduces himself as the book's titular character. This is done with little modesty: "I am a storyteller, monarch of a realm vaster than any of you can envisage, that of the imagination."

As suggested, the writing style is consistent in its opulence of imagery, but the story itself gets caught between building a romantic mystery from a mosaic of perspectives and glorifying a largely pointless, unrequited love. Minor characters are swept in and then rushed out in Hassan's ever more complex tale. This is in marked contrast to his descriptions of Marrakech, which Bhattacharya carefully crafts in sentence after sentence.

Taken in small doses, The Storyteller of Marrakesh has a lot to offer in its brief snatches of life in a land steeped in mysticism. As a whole, however, the novel is a bumpy ride with contradictions springing up in each of the supporting cast's recollections of the same incident. Rather than enriching the mystery surrounding the disappearance of a young couple in the city, these clashes usually confuse and distract.