Shortly after the 2005 London bombings, Tahir Shah was thrown into a Pakistani prison on suspicion of spying for Al-Qaeda. What sustained him during his terrifying, weeks-long ordeal were the stories his father told him as a child in Morocco.
Inspired by this, on his return to his adopted homeland he embarked on an adventure worthy of the mythical Arabian Nights, going in search of the stories and storytellers that have nourished this most alluring of countries for centuries. Wandering through the medinas of Fez and Marrakech, criss-crossing the Saharan sands and tasting the hospitality of ordinary Moroccans, he collected a treasury of traditional stories recounted by a vivid and eccentric cast of characters: from master masons who work only at night to Sufi wise men who write for soap operas and Tuareg guides addicted to reality TV. Himself a link in the chain of scholars and teachers who have passed such tales down from father to son, mother to daughter, Shah reveals a world and a way of thinking that most visitors to Morocco barely know exist.