Oct 1, 2010 11:36:44 PM
Morocco: travel books to read before you go
This excerpt from Lonely Planet’s Morocco guide provides a selection of travel literature to enhance your trip.
The Caliph’s House by Tahir Shah is a brilliant account of how a writer and filmmaker left behind London life to renovate the djinn-haunted former home of the caliph of Casablanca – overflowing with insight and Moroccan characters writ large. Check out his more recent In Arabian Nights for his delving into Morocco’s rich storytelling tradition.
A young hippie takes her children to 1960s Marrakesh to find herself and an alternative life in Esther Freud’s delightful and autobiographical Hideous Kinky. Famously made into a film starring Kate Winslet, the author’s witty lightness-of-touch is even more engaging.
Morocco: In the Labyrinth of Dreams and Bazaars by Walter M Weiss is an ambitious journey through the contradictions of modern Morocco from its polyglot past to its modern liberal-conservative fault lines.
In The Spider’s House, Paul Bowles presents Fez in the twilight of the French occupation as the arena for this political tour de force considered by many to be Bowles’ finest. Daily Fez life, with its weblike complexities, provides a fascinating backdrop.
If you fancy living the riad dream, first check out A House in Fez by Suzanna Clarke, an excellent recounting of her purchase and restoration of a townhouse in the heart of the Fez medina, and the many challenges therein.
Tangier: City of the Dream by Iain Finlayson is a great book to pack if you’re entering Morocco through this ‘seedy, salacious, decadent, degenerate’ city. There are plenty of insights into the Beat Generation of writers including Paul Bowles, William S Burroughs and Jack Kerouac.
Valley of the Casbahs: A Journey Across the Moroccan Sahara is an account of Jeffrey Taylers’ epic modern-day camel journey from the Drâa Valley to the Atlantic, leaving behind tourist Morocco, with Berbers and a harsh desert terrain for company.
If you think your feet felt sore after a short hike in the mountains, you’ll appreciate Hamish Brown’s The Mountains Look on Marrakech, an expert walker’s elegant account of his 900-mile 96-day trek from one end of the Atlas to the other.
Gavin Maxwell’s Lords of the Atlas is a gripping story of intrigue and power amid the rise of the Glaoui family in southern Morocco. ‘To call it a travel book is as inadequate as calling a camel a quadruped’ wrote one reviewer, and we’d have to agree.
As guidebook writers we always appreciate the best in travel writing, and Marrakech through Writers’ Eyes edited by Barnaby Rogerson and Rose Baring is like one of those feasts of endless Moroccan dishes that you can dip into again and again.
More travel literature reading lists for other destinations can be found here.