10 books like Stolen Lives

By Malika Oufkir, Michele Fitoussi,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Stolen Lives. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Sultan's Wife

By Jane Johnson,

Book cover of The Sultan's Wife

Good writers of historical fiction blend layers of fact and fantasy together into an irresistible kaleidoscope. The very best of them are time travellers. And, that’s what Jane Johnson certain is… for her magical novel, set in the days of Sultan Moulay Ismail, sucks the reader back through centuries to a time when the Barbary Coast was a wild rumpus of a place – peppered with palaces and pirates, treasure, secrets, intrigue, and danger. I love this book because it’s not a dry historical read, so much as an intricate observation on the relationship between people, both elegant and deeply touching.

The Sultan's Wife

By Jane Johnson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sultan's Wife as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The author of The Salt Road and The Tenth Gift Jane Johnson returns with a captivating historical novel set in Morocco, The Sultan's Wife.

The year is 1677. Behind the magnificent walls and towering arches of the Palace of Meknes, captive chieftain's son and now a lowly scribe, Nus Nus is framed for murder. As he attempts to evade punishment for the bloody crime, Nus Nus finds himself trapped in a vicious plot, caught between the three most powerful figures in the court: the cruel and arbitrary Sultan Moulay Ismail, one of the most tyrannical rulers in history; his monstrous…


The Last Storytellers

By Richard Hamilton,

Book cover of The Last Storytellers: Tales from the Heart of Morocco

Far too many foreigners, myself included, have rocked up in Morocco and set to work recording versions of traditional tales for an outside audience. Almost all of them have realized that, what they imagined would be a straightforward exercise, was a near-impossible feat. One of the few European writers who have succeeded, and succeeded exceptionally well, is BBC reporter Richard Hamilton. As I read The Last Storytellers, I marvelled at how well he succeeded where so many others failed. The reason is that Hamilton has two qualities in abundance: patience and sensitivity. Reading the stories he presents takes me to the central square in Marrakech, Jma al Fna. I can see it, feel it, smell it, and, most importantly, I can hear the storytellers there recounting tales that pre-date A Thousand and One Nights.

The Last Storytellers

By Richard Hamilton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Last Storytellers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

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…


The Assembly of the Dead

By Saeida Rouass,

Book cover of The Assembly of the Dead

The books I like about certain places tend to be written by people who have not been born and raised there. It’s because the author has detachment, which makes their sense of observation all the keener. But, best books about places seem to be by authors who have some ancestral connection to that place. It’s as though they’re attached to it through their genes. Saeida Rouass, was born in London to Moroccan parents. From the very first line on the very first page of her book Assembly of the Dead, you can feel she’s not English, but rather that she’s connected by some magical alchemy to Morocco, the land of her ancestors. Rouass is a dazzling writer, one who bridges East and West in the most exceptional and unusual way.

The Assembly of the Dead

By Saeida Rouass,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Assembly of the Dead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Morocco, 1906. The country is caught between growing European influence and domestic instability. As young women disappear from the alleyways of Marrakesh, Farook Al-Alami, a detective from Tangier, is summoned to solve the case of the apparent abductions. Investigating crimes in a country without a police force, Farook enters Marrakesh on the orders of the Sultan. But, in a city under siege from famine and death, he must rely on his own intuition and skill to uncover the mystery of the women s fate. Will anything halt the spate of disappearances until then? And can a single, criminal pair of…


Hideous Kinky

By Esther Freud,

Book cover of Hideous Kinky

There have been droves of books written by beatniks, hippies, non-conformists and bohemians, but far fewer by their children. Their offspring experienced the trials and tribulations of having parents on quests for flower power enlightenment. I have an inside-out interest in this, because my father (the Sufi writer Idries Shah) was one of the people everyone seemed to be making a beeline for in the swinging ’sixties just as I was being born. Of all the books by the children born or raised in the Age of Aquarius, Hideous Kinky stands out by far as the most beguiling. I absolutely adore the way Esther Freud reveals the tale, gently and evenly, and with a voice that’s as sweet as the Winter oranges on Morocco’s trees.

Hideous Kinky

By Esther Freud,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hideous Kinky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An unusual story about Marrakesh in the 1960's told through the eyes of a five year old child.


Reluctant Reception

By Kelsey P. Norman,

Book cover of Reluctant Reception: Refugees, Migration and Governance in the Middle East and North Africa

Reluctant Reception is a worthwhile read in that it addresses refugee policy from the perspective of Egypt, Morocco, and Turkey, three states located in the Middle East and North Africa. Norman argues that, like other states in the Global South, these states are often perceived as transit countries for migrants and refugees, who ultimately want to reach Europe. Norman shows, however, that these states’ lack of a strong formalized refugee policy hides the fact that political and economic interests play a major role in informing their response to migrants and refugees.

Norman also shows that apparent disinterest in migration is part of a deliberate strategy that countries in the Global South use in order to have international organizations, as well as Western governments (the latter being keen on limiting migration from the Global South), provide for the basic costs of hosting migrants and refugees. Reluctant Reception not only provides compelling…

Reluctant Reception

By Kelsey P. Norman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Reluctant Reception as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Seeking to understand why host states treat migrants and refugees inclusively, exclusively, or without any direct engagement, Kelsey P. Norman offers this original, comparative analysis of the politics of asylum seeking and migration in the Middle East and North Africa. While current classifications of migrant and refugee engagement in the Global South mistake the absence of formal policy and law for neglect, Reluctant Reception proposes the concept of 'strategic indifference', where states proclaim to be indifferent toward migrants and refugees, thereby inviting international organizations and local NGOs to step in and provide services on the state's behalf. Using the cases…


The Caliph's House

By Tahir Shah,

Book cover of The Caliph's House: A Year in Casablanca

Shah, a self-proclaimed “broke writer,” somehow affords a Moroccan mansion with maids, gardeners, and endless renovations. He doesn’t bother to develop his wife and kids as characters—they get even less attention than an extra in a movie. But at least you get to see Morocco through his self-obsessed eyes, which, fortunately, pay a lot of attention to detail. His immaculate use of sensory details will give you a traveling experience for even less than a Ryan Air flight. The book is a prime choice for anyone who wants to dive into Moroccan culture with all its superstitions. 

The Caliph's House

By Tahir Shah,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Caliph's House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the tradition of A Year in Provence and Under the Tuscan Sun, acclaimed English travel writer Tahir Shah shares a highly entertaining account of making an exotic dream come true. By turns hilarious and harrowing, here is the story of his family’s move from the gray skies of London to the sun-drenched city of Casablanca, where Islamic tradition and African folklore converge–and nothing is as easy as it seems….

Inspired by the Moroccan vacations of his childhood, Tahir Shah dreamed of making a home in that astonishing country. At age thirty-six he got his chance. Investing what money he…


Disappeared

By Bonnar Spring,

Book cover of Disappeared

Two American housewives—sisters—are on vacation in Morocco (a place I’ve really enjoyed visiting) and one of them disappears. Her sister is determined to find her, but neither has any preparation for the dangers they face. A foreign setting is mysterious, exotic, and always holds unknown possibilities. Finding themselves in a rural area, the women don’t know whom to trust, and they cannot rely on the usual social safeguards. The police and military are actually a threat. For me, a standalone thriller like this packs extra tension because you can’t be certain the characters will survive!

Disappeared

By Bonnar Spring,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Disappeared as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

These two sisters are about to be permanently "disappeared"

Julie Welch's sister, Fay Lariviere, disappears from their hotel in Morocco. Although she leaves a note that she'll be back in two days, Fay doesn't return.

Julie's anger shifts to worry—and to fear when she discovers a stalker. Then, an attack meant for Julie kills another woman. Searching Fay's luggage and quizzing the hotel staff, Julie discovers Fay's destination—a remote village in the Saharan desert. Convinced her sister is in danger and propelled by her own jeopardy, Julie rushes to warn Fay.

By the time she reaches the village, Julie finds…


Destination Casablanca

By Meredith Hindley,

Book cover of Destination Casablanca: Exile, Espionage, and the Battle for North Africa in World War II

This is an exciting new book by Meredith Hindley. Instead of Humphrey Bogart and Rick’s Café, this book features interesting real people, such as the famous singer Josephine Baker, who, although not members of armed forces, still did their part to help the Allied cause. After conducting extensive research in archives and secondary sources, Hindley crafted an engaging narrative in which she connects exiles who gathered information about the Germans with the fight for control of North Africa and the Mediterranean. I recommend this book because it provides a human dimension to the story of the Battle for North Africa.

Destination Casablanca

By Meredith Hindley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Destination Casablanca as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the summer of 1940, following France's surrender to Germany, Casablanca was transformed from an exotic travel destination to a key military target. Nazi agents and collaborators soon overran the city looking to capitalize on the new Vichy regime. The resistance was not far behind, as bartenders, shopkeepers, taxi drivers, celebrities, and disgruntled bureaucrats formed a network of Allied spies. Meanwhile, Jewish refugees from Europe flooded the city, hoping to obtain visas to the United States and beyond.

In November 1942, Casablanca's wartime fate changed in 74 hours, when 33,000 American soldiers stormed the beaches of French Morocco as part…


The Sheltering Sky

By Paul Bowles,

Book cover of The Sheltering Sky

It is a notion that Paul Bowles realizes intuitively in his deeply philosophical novel The Sheltering Sky. For Bowles, it is our memories, not simply our flesh, that render life so precious, so fleeting. “How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood,” Bowles writes, “some afternoon that’s so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.”

The Sheltering Sky

By Paul Bowles,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sheltering Sky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The Sheltering Sky is a book about people on the edge of an alien space; somewhere where, curiously, they are never alone' Michael Hoffman.

Port and Kit Moresbury, a sophisticated American couple, are finding it more than a little difficult to live with each other. Endeavouring to escape this predicament, they set off for North Africa intending to travel through Algeria - uncertain of exactly where they are heading, but determined to leave the modern world behind. The results of this casually taken decision are both tragic and compelling.


Memories of Absence

By Aomar Boum,

Book cover of Memories of Absence: How Muslims Remember Jews in Morocco

When we talk about the need to read Jewish history in the Middle East within its original context, and within the understanding that Jews lived among non-Jews, interacted with non-Jews, and had a tremendous influence on their respective societies, from time to time, we need to change the perspective and see how their non-Jewish compatriots viewed them and remember them. In this book, Aomar Boum recorded the ways in which the Muslims of Morocco remember the large Jewish communities that lived in that country for millennia and shrunk to a fraction of their former self after 1956-1967. This book allows us to examine multiple perspectives simultaneously. The national and colonial identities, the essence of Middle Eastern Zionism, and the place of the memory of Jews after they had left in the modern societies.

Memories of Absence

By Aomar Boum,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Memories of Absence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There is a Moroccan saying: A market without Jews is like bread without salt. Once a thriving community, by the late 1980s, 240,000 Jews had emigrated from Morocco. Today, fewer than 4,000 Jews remain. Despite a centuries-long presence, the Jewish narrative in Moroccan history has largely been suppressed through national historical amnesia, Jewish absence, and a growing dismay over the Palestinian conflict.

Memories of Absence investigates how four successive generations remember the lost Jewish community. Moroccan attitudes toward the Jewish population have changed over the decades, and a new debate has emerged at the center of the Moroccan nation: Where…


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