The art of storytelling

2011-12-14 00:00

AS the title suggests, the true subject of this book is storytelling itself. The plot (such as it is) concerns the disappearance of a young couple, foreigners to the exotic location, but the book focuses on the evocation of their story by Hassan, the story­teller. The art of storytelling, which is presented as an art, does not allow a simple encounter with plot.

The reader is introduced to the Jemaa, the central square on which performers, musicians and the ­storyteller earn their living. Through evocative descriptions of what lies before him, Hassan evokes the life of Marrakesh, its mosques and market places, its itinerant variety of tribal peoples. Through digressions and diversions, we learn about the culture of Morocco, its cities with their skilled artisans, the fertile rural valleys of dates and sheep, and the magnitude of the desert. Each of the listeners to Hassan’s story has their own opinion of the young man and woman, and their own ­version of what happened. It becomes apparent that storytelling is about ­exchange and community and about co-creation, and the slippery, unknowable nature of life and our experiences of it.

Hassan has an urgent personal reason for the telling and retelling of this particular story as his brother is implicated in the disappearance and imprisoned as a result. In an attempt to make meaning, the events are looked at from every possible angle and the philosophical implications are slowly distilled from the complex human interactions reflected on. While full of interesting descriptions and some profound insights, I found this book quite frustrating to read because of the continual digressions, but ultimately it is worth persevering, not for the solution to the plot which seems rather banal, but for the importance which the imagination attains within the story.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.