I did it again. I read another Indian author and I will never again tell anyone that I prefer reading only foreign authors because the author Joydeep Roy-Bhattachraya changed my perception about Indian authors and their writings. Well, I must accept that I was prejudiced but thanks to Joydeep, I am a changed person now. He had my attention from the first to the last page of the book “The Storyteller of Marrakesh”. And when it ended, I was left wanting more-so was the thirst that the story evoked in me. It was an open ended story. The story has an ending alright but I'm not sure whether I got what the author had in his mind when he wrote those last two pages or was it meant for the readers to interpret it the way that suited them. Whatever it was, however it ended, I wished it hadn’t ended so soon. I wished that the night at Marrakesh had never ended so that the storyteller of Marrakesh, Hassan, would continue narrating his brother’s story that he recounted every year at the square of Jemaa el fna on the day the two foreigners had disappeared.
The narration makes sure that all the characters get to voice their encounter with the two foreigners around whom the story revolves. A beautiful half French-half American lady and her Indian man manage to awe everyone they meet during their stay at Marrakesh. Her beauty pleases few, few want to make her theirs and few even try to steal her away from her beloved. It inspired few and it also stole sanity from others. She was a symbol of purity to some, while her beauty was a bad omen to others. She and her companion because a memory, a dream, then a work of fiction and she was also the reason why Mustafa, Hassan’s brother, surrendered to law for the crime that he never did. At least, Hassan believed that his brother was innocent and narrated his story to his audiences, every year, believing that it would prove his brother’s innocence or might be he just wanted to assure himself that his brother was innocent by retelling the story.
The story narrates the love of a storyteller towards storytelling and his brother. It also tells us the story of three sons of a storyteller who go in three different directions. It recites their pasts and dreams. Though they share same genes and live under same roof, they are totally different from each other. One is materialistic, one chases beauty and another likes to give life to his dreams and illusions, weaving a beautiful story for his audiences.
The book puts light on the life in the desert and also life in a Muslim old-city that holds centuries of history in its books.
I shall rate the book 4.5 out of 5. I am telling it again that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel and would suggest everyone read it too, not only because of the captivating story but the language and the narration is extraordinary too. It’s a must read for those who are looking for a quality read, not just entertainment.