Book your holiday: Morocco

Deserts, mountains, coastline and bustling city: Morocco's melting pot of cultures is as inviting as its tagines. Here are five books to read before you go.

Morocco's desert
Image: Ryan MacEachern/Penguin

Nestled on Africa’s north-westerly tip, bridging the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Seas, Morocco’s combination of Arabic, Berber and European cultural influences makes it a fascinating place to visit – and read about. From Essaouira’s windswept city walls, to Chefchaouen’s blue ones, through the understated beauty of the Atlas Mountains and down to the desert’s baking sands, Morocco has plenty to offer. And that’s before its more famous city offerings: the bustling souks of Marrakech and Fez, the coastline of Casablanca. Ripe sights, sounds and smells to inspire the writer: and here are the best books to start with.

Sex and Lies: Sex Life in Morocco by Leila Slimani (2017)

As a novelist, Leila Slimani (who is French-Moroccan) has plated up race, class and gender in piercing tomes (Lullaby, Adele). In this, her first non-fiction book, Slimani has pulled back the curtain on the same themes with eviscerating detail after gathering Moroccan women’s stories of desire and discretion while on book tours in the country. In the process, Slimani offers a call to arms to reform the punitive and antiquated laws that keep women, and their sexuality, repressed.  

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