Literature Program

Thursday, February 3, 2011 at 7:00 p.m.


Talking Leaves...Books, Hallwalls, & Just Buffalo present

Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya

Author of The Storyteller of Marrakesh

Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya Fiction Reading & Book Signing

Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya's new novel (W.W. Norton & Co., Jan. 31, 2011) tells the story of the oral storyteller Hassan, who each year gathers listeners in the fabled Jemaa el Fna—the buzzing square and marketplace at the heart of the Medina Quarter (old city) of Marrakesh—to share their recollections of a legendary young, foreign couple whose appearance in the square was as mysterious as their eventual disappearance. (The origin of the name Jemaa el Fna remains unknown: it means "Assembly of the Dead" in Arabic, but as the word Jemaa also means mosque, it could also mean "Place of the Vanished Mosque," "The Mosque of Eternity," "The Mosque of Annihilation," or perhaps "The Mosque at the End of the World.") A waiter tells of how he found the couple's cups of hot tea coated in frost; another recalls the unusual forked lightning bolt that preceded their arrival. But this isn't a simple exercise in swapping tales; Hassan's own brother was arrested for the apparent crime (kidnapping? murder?), and as each year passes, Hassan hopes to chance upon a detail that will explain what happened to the couple, and clear his brother's name.

The Storyteller of Marrakesh The Storyteller of Marrakesh—told in unusually lucid, visceral, elegant prose—is a mystery and a romance, a Rashomon-like tale centering on the nature of beauty and our shifting perceptions of reality. Roy-Bhattacharya accomplishes a literary high-wire act while bringing to light the beauty of Marrakesh and the rich literary traditions of the Middle East. Roy-Bhattacharya's first novel, The Gabriel Club, was published in eight languages in sixteen countries. He was born in Jamshedpur, India, and lives in NYC.

Some publications related to this event:
February and March, 2011 - 2011