Books for the Road: Morocco

We are passionate about cultural education during your journeys abroad, and what better way to improve your travel literacy than reading! Morocco’s rich history is layered with culture, tradition, religion and people and a single visit there merely scratches the surface. These books & authors will provide both depth and perspective as you gear up for your travels to this magical place in North Africa.

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Tahir ShahWe couldn’t just list one of Tahir Shah’s tales of Morocco because they’re all gems in their own right. An acclaimed writer from an Anglo-Afghan background, Shah gives unique insight and perspective in his memoirs and novels through his time living in Morocco. The Caliph’s House is a hilarious, insightful account of his experience renovating a mansion in Casablanca. In Arabian Nights is written in the vivid, flowing style of ancient storytellers, taking you across Morocco, from the Sahara desert to the medinas of Fez to the dazzle of Marrakech. 

 

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Paul Bowles was a prolific writer, composer and translator acclaimed for his many works set in Morocco, starting with his first novel The Sheltering Sky published in 1949 and set in post WWII North Africa. His accounts are vivid and visceral, giving you the sights, smells and sounds of a place that was once (and still is) mystical and magical. He is most associated with Tangier, having lived there a large portion of his life, and incorporates twentieth century themes into all of his works. Bowles’ writings give a sense of place: The Spider’s House set in Fez during the 1954 national uprising; Let it Come Down in Tangier during the final days before independence; and Collected Stories of his works from 1939-1976. 

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Women on MoroccoThe accounts of Morocco from a female’s perspective are in many ways entirely different, given traditional societal roles and rituals. Even for an expat with few limitations, the insight is rich and deep in a new way. Suzanna Clarke recounts her experience in the labyrinth of riads in A House in Fez and gives us her own essential reading list for this incredibly complex, ancient city. A native Moroccan who now lives in Oregon, Laila Lalami has two novels: The Secret Son, a powerful novel set in modern day Morocco, exploring the themes of identity, class, and politics and The Moors Account, a historical fiction of a Moroccan slave and explorer in the Americas. 

 

This is just to get you started…there is a whole host of classics including Walter Burton Harris’ Morocco That Was, the oral traditions of Marrakech in Richard Hamilton’s The Last Story Tellers, and the tales of Ibn Battuta, the 14th century Moroccan explorer who journeyed across North Africa, the Arab world, Europe and Asia. 

What are your favorite books on Morocco? 

Want to join us in Morocco? Check out our upcoming trips here!

Banner photo credit: Andrea Flisi. All Rights Reserved.