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The Last Storytellers

Marrakech is the heart and lifeblood of Morocco's ancient storytelling tradition. For nearly a thousand years, storytellers have gathered in the Jemaa el Fna, the legendary square of the city, to recount ancient folktales and fables to rapt audiences. But this unique chain of oral tradition that has passed seamlessly from generation to generation is teetering on the brink of extinction. The competing distractions of television, movies and the internet have drawn the crowds away from the storytellers and few have the desire to learn the stories and continue their legacy. Richard Hamilton has witnessed at first hand the death throes of this rich and captivating tradition and, in the labyrinth of the Marrakech medina, has tracked down the last few remaining storytellers, recording stories that are replete with the mysteries and beauty of the Maghreb.
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Table of Contents

*Introduction * The Red Lantern * The Fakir and the Frog * The Gazelle with the Golden Horns * The Shoemaker and the Bird * The Traveller and the Sultan's Daughter * The Woman who fell in love with the Hermit * The Trials of Noureddine * The Sultan and his Vizier's Wife * The Thief and the Judge * Seven Coins and a Donkey * The Girl from Fes * The Sultan and his Vizier * The Sultan's Daughter * The Clothes Merchant and the Young Woman * The Laundryman * The Man who went against his Father's Wishes * The Lion and the Wolf * The Oil Merchant's Son * The Sultan and the Chicken * The Two Hunchbacks * El-Ghaliya bent Mansour * King Kadour and his son Mouhand *The Land and the Treasure * The Statue and the Robber * The Tailor, the Princess and the Eagle * Nour and the Sultan * The Sultan and the Thief * The Eyes of Ben'Adi * The Vizier and the Barber * The Imam and the Wager * The Date Gatherers * Ismail and the Thieves * The Birth of the Sahara * The Christian Woman * The Rich Woman and the Sacks of Corn * The Nobleman and his Three Sons * The Vengeance of Allah * The Three Figs * The Legend of the Rose * Aicha Rmada * The Queen and the King, the son of Amelkani * The Bird from the Land of Gabour * One hundred and one Beheadings * The Sultan's Daughter and the Leper * The Woman and the Black Cat * The City and the Countryside * Suleiman and the Stork * The Woman and the Devil * The Pomegranate and the Talking Drum*

About the Author

Richard Hamilton has worked for the BBC World Service as a broadcast journalist since 1998, including as a correspondent in Morocco, South Africa and Madagascar. He also reports for BBC TV, radio and online. While living in Morocco, he co-authored the 'Time Out Guide to Marrakech' and has written throughout his career for magazines and newspapers such as 'Conde Nast Traveller' and 'The Cape Times'. He has an MA in African Studies from SOAS.


The Last Storytellers succeeds brilliantly in delving down through the endless overlapping layers of Marrakech life, to reveal the extraordinary underbelly, an ancient cultural bedrock built on stories and story-telling. Through a shrewd perception of a society that can seem nothing less than baffling to the Occidental mind, Richard Hamilton has triumphed where many before him have failed.' - Tahir Shah, author of The Caliph's House and In Arabian Nights 'This is a wonderfully vivid and striking collection of stories which I heartily recommend." - Fergal Keane ' - charming, fantastical and lively - produces a startling amount of pleasure from some very small packages.' - Eamonn Gearon, TLS 'Richard Hamilton has recorded something which very few foreign correspondents do and in doing so he has captured a rich, vibrant yet disappearing world. The immediate and sudden stories of political upheaval, conflict and natural disaster are what takes a foreign correspondent to postings around the world. But instead, Richard Hamilton, a modern reporter of the 24 hour news age, has chosen to focus on something very different. He has listened, learned and been captivated by the storytellers of Morroco, re-telling some of that country's charming and spellbinding traditional stories. The tales are amusing, whimsical and and leave you spellbound that you are reading stories which may soon disappear. Hamilton has paid a fine and lasting tribute to Morocco's storytellers by writing down their stories for posterity...and our enjoyment.' - Rageh Omaar 'In collecting these tales of wisdom, wonder, adventure and humour from the small and ageing group of Moroccan story -tellers Richard Hamilton has not only offered entertainment to his readers but he has also carried out a valuable form of rescue archaeology within the vanishing world of professional story-telling.' - Robert Irwin 'Hamilton does not only offer his readers a valuable, enchanting, interesting and entertaining read but also launches a Cri de Coeur to rescue this vanishing and traditional form of storytelling as it slowly falls into the abyss of forgetfulness.' - North South

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