Book review: Sheltering Sky ~ Paul Bowles


Paul Bowles (Penguin)


A cult novel by the Tangiers literary guru based on the author’s own experiences in North Africa. Not a thoughtful gift for a nervy visitor to Morocco, but a thrilling read if you like your desert with a bit of sex, madness, infidelity and death. Bertolucci’s eponymous 1985 film turned out to be a hackneyed desert romance with dashing Tuareg princes, graceful caravans crossing golden dunes and ululating tribes women at every village. While certainly good-looking (filmed partly in the Tenere), it fails to get its teeth into the inscrutable, existential quandaries of the protagonists. Although he appeared in one of the final scenes, Paul Bowles had this to say of the film: It should never have been filmed. The ending is idiotic and the rest is pretty bad.

The track from the Police’s Synchronicity album, Tea in the Sahara, relates a morbid legend described in this book.