"One wouldn’t expect Dalrymple to be mentioned alongside the Marxist mystic Walter Benjamin, but I believe that Benjamin’s essay “The Storyteller” can help us to better understand the value of Dalrymple’s book. In the essay, Benjamin writes that “The storyteller takes what he tells from experience—his own or that reported by others. And he in turn makes it the experience of those who are listening to his tale. The novelist has isolated himself. The birthplace of the novel is the solitary individual, who is no longer able to express himself by giving examples of his most important concerns, is himself uncounseled, and cannot counsel others.”
Which of course takes us back to Dalrymple’s experiences as a doctor and how he uses them. He’s a storyteller, and so his fictions brush up against the hard edge of a lived reality, striking a still pose halfway between fairy tale and morality play. They orient us towards something fundamental that Dalrymple has experienced in his own life. They create communion, then, in a shared core element of human life."