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The Caliph's House [Kindle Edition]

Tahir Shah
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £9.99
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Book Description

Look into the eyes of a jinn and you stare into the depths of your own soul...


Writer and film-maker Tahir Shah - in his 30s, married, with two small children - was beginning to wilt under brash, cramped, ennervating British city life. Flying in the face of friends' advice, he longed to fulfil his dream of finding a place bursting with life, colour, history and romance - somewhere far removed from London - in which to raise a family. Childhood memories of holidaying with his parents, and of a grandfather he barely knew, led him to Morocco and to 'Dar Khalifa', a sprawling and, with the exception of its jinns, long-abandoned residence on the edge of Casablanca's shanty town that, rumour had it, once belonged to the city's Caliph.


And so begins Tahir Shah's gloriously vivid, funny, affectionate and compelling account of how he and his family - aided, abetted and so often hindered by a wonderful cast of larger-than-life local characters: guardians, gardeners, builders, artisans, bureacrats and police (not forgetting the jinns, the spirits that haunt the house) - returned the Caliph's House to its former glory and learned to make this most exotic and alluring of countries their home.


The Caliph's House is a story of home-ownership abroad - full of the attendant dramas, anxieties and frustrations - but it is also much more. Woven into the narrative is the author's own journey of self-discovery, of learning about a grandfather he hardly knew, and of coming to love the magical, multi-faceted, contradictory country that is Morocco.



Product Description

Review

"Tahir Shah's highly readable account of moving his young family to Casablanca is.... an outrageously black comedy [written] with the straightest of poker faces."--"The Washington Post Book Review" "A wonderfully entertaining book - Tahir Shah's talent is to make you laugh while you are admiring the insights given by his most original and lively view of life."--Doris Lessing "Reminiscent of Peter Mayle's "A Year in Provence,""--"Entertainment Weekly" "From the Hardcover edition."

Book Description

Wonderfully written, funny, entertaining, magical account of the author's struggle to restore a house and set up home in Morocco

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1275 KB
  • Print Length: 372 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0553816802
  • Publisher: Transworld Digital; New Ed edition (30 Sept. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0045JKERG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #100,220 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Tahir Shah is the author of fifteen books, many of which chronicle a wide range of outlandish journeys through Africa, Asia and the Americas. For him, there's nothing so important as deciphering the hidden underbelly of the lands through which he travels. Shunning well-trodden tourist paths, he avoids celebrated landmarks, preferring instead to position himself on a busy street corner or in a dusty café and observe life go by. Insisting that we can all be explorers, he says there's wonderment to be found wherever we are - it's just a matter of seeing the world with fresh eyes.

In the tradition of A Thousand and One Nights, Shah's first 2013 release, SCORPION SOUP, is a treasury of nested tales. One linking effortlessly into the next, the stories form a cornucopia of lore and values, the kind that has for centuries shaped the cultural landscape of the East. Amusing, poignant, and thoroughly entertaining, the collection stays with you, conjuring a magic all of its own.

Shah's 2012 novel, TIMBUCTOO, is inspired by a true life tale from two centuries ago. The story of the first Christian to venture to Timbuctoo and back - a young illiterate American sailor - it has been an obsession since Shah discovered it in the bowels of the London Library twenty years ago.

His 2011 collection entitled TRAVELS WITH MYSELF is a body of work as varied and as any, with reportage pieces as diverse as the women on America's Death Row, to the trials and tribulations of his encounter in a Pakistani torture jail.

Another recent work, IN ARABIAN NIGHTS, looks at how stories are used in cultures such as Morocco, as a matrix by which information, values and ideas are passed on from one generation to the next. That book follows on the heels of the celebrated CALIPH'S HOUSE: A Year in Casablanca, lauded as one of Time Magazine's Top 10 Books of the year.

His other works include an epic quest through Peru's cloud forest for the greatest lost city of the Incas (HOUSE OF THE TIGER KING), as well as a journey through Ethiopia in search of the source of King Solomon's gold (IN SEARCH OF KING SOLOMON'S MINES). Previous to that, Shah published an account of a journey through the Amazon on the trail of the Birdmen of the Amazon (TRAIL OF FEATHERS), as well as a book of his experiences in India, as a godman's pupil (SORCERER'S APPRENTICE).

Tahir Shah's books have appeared in thirty languages and in more than seventy editions. They are celebrated for their original viewpoint, and for combining hardship with vivid description.

He also makes documentary films, which are shown worldwide on National Geographical Television, and The History Channel. The latest, LOST TREASURE OF AFGHANISTAN, has been screened on British TV and shown worldwide. While researching the programme Shah was arrested along with his film crew and incarcerated in a Pakistani torture jail, where they spent sixteen terrifying days and nights.

His other documentaries include: HOUSE OF THE TIGER KING, SEARCH FOR THE LOST CITY OF GOLD, and THE SEARCH FOR KING SOLOMON'S MINES. And, in addition to documentaries, Shah writes for the big screen. His best known work in this genre is the award-winning Imax feature JOURNEY TO MECCA, telling the tale of the fourteenth century Moroccan traveller Ibn Battuta's first pilgrimage to Mecca.

Tahir Shah lives at Dar Khalifa, a sprawling mansion set squarely in the middle of a Casablanca shantytown. He's married to the graphic designer, Rachana Shah, and has two children, Ariane and Timur. His father was the Sufi writer, Idries Shah.

www.tahirshah.com
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Home renovation at its best. 6 Feb. 2007
Format:Paperback
Moving house can be traumatic at the best of times. Moving to a different country can be even more so, there's the language to contend with, the clash of cultures and if you're unlucky a whole host of Jinn to excise. Tahir Shah, an Afghan by blood but an Englishman by nature writes the most exquisite upper class prose of his move to Casablanca. He turns the normally dull subject if house renovation into the most fantastic series of adventures that deal with the mundane issues of bribing various officials to the adventures bordering on the supernatural where he deals with the various Jinn's that plague his stay. Expect to learn a lot about the culture and customs of Morocco, but this is not the sort of travel writing to profoundly move you or inspire you. This more the sort that makes you chuckle gently as you read away a blissful Sunday afternoon.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Wonderful!" says London lady who loves horses 30 Mar. 2006
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is unputdownable. Just one more page....and then suddenly its all over and you wish there was more. It is funny, sensitive, and a real journey in time and space. The rich tapestry of this family's building of a life in their Caliph's House brought me sunshine, filling my life and transporting me away from the grim grey London winter into another dimension. A perfect antidote to February & March.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every page a joyous adventure 22 May 2007
Format:Paperback
When I picked up this book I found it very hard to put down. Entering the sixth year of renovations on my own period house on the coast, I had to admire Tahir for just simply taking it all on. Yes I know he had the money and did little physical work himself, but the amount of effort required to just get someone else to do even the simplest of jobs in the way he wanted them done, brought back many horrendous memories. Workmen (especially builders) throughout the world must have all inherited the same genes somewhere along the line. A different culture, language, work ethic and a way of life steeped with superstition and weird and wonderful customs, made the renovation of the Caliph's House a once in a lifetime project. If this man moves on with his family, he surely has a backbone of steel. Don't consider that this book will be an encyclopedia of DIY hints and tips, it's more a guide on how to maintain an open mind and how to be be a project manager. Who knows, if more widely read, it could be the sole cause of a slump in the Moroccan real estate market ! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this convoluted tale of overcoming adversity and can highly recommend it to everyone.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid account of a new life in Casablanca 25 Feb. 2006
Format:Hardcover
Tahir Shah's latest book finds him in Casablanca with his wife and 2 children. An old house, haunted by a Jinn, has been bought and is in need of major refurbishment... this is the backgound to a charming and insightful book on life in 21st. century Casablanca. His touch is as light and humourous as ever.
Regular readers of the author's work, will be used to madcap escapades in every corner of the world. Tahir Shah has settled down, somewhat, to family life and has left London for the colour of Casablanca.
The cast of characters is broad, tradesmen, helpers, fixers, unwanted guests, local mafia; all described with the author's trademark humour and wit.
New readers are strongly recommended to read his other books, ideally in sequence. Tahir also finds new information on his Grandfather's last years also spent in Morocco.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A journey 26 Feb. 2006
Format:Hardcover
‘Your grandfather taught us so many things, but the thing that affected me most was his advice to seek out what is no immediately seen. He said that on the surface, the carrot is a mere tuft of green, but under the ground there’s a root waiting to be found… He always told me to meet ordinary people. “The ordinary world”, he would say, “is complete”’. These words, revealed by an old acquaintance of Ikbal Ali Shah, probably set Tahir Shah on the right track, and his nightmare about how to settle in a new house, in fact how to settle in a strange environment, took another turn. As the zillij pattern he was trying to lay down in his house, the many sided events he encountered needed the background of a whole design to make sense.
Amazing reading, as the palace Dar-al-Caliph, a remote dream of a sunny unshackled life in Morocco, away from the safe-hygienic-boring life in England, becomes an entity of its own, a melting pot where dreams fade away and not finding the warp and weft of the unfolding situation may mean loosing everything. Not to be missed the advice given by his wife, when the situation becomes mad: ‘If you want the house done you have to be like a Moroccan’.
‘Jinns, collecting the grandfather’s legacy, the underbelly of Moroccan life, more jinns, old age crafts, guile, the humour of the absurd, the world seen from one of its peculiar corners ….’
Read it, perhaps you may find a piece of zillij, or a broken tile that may fit somewhere in your own house.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant straight-through read 7 Feb. 2006
Format:Hardcover
Could not put it down is a cliche - but it was true for this book and me. I made the mistake of starting to read at 9pm and was still sitting in a chair after everyone else had gone to bed flipping pages and laughing out loud at 4.30am. It is one of very few books I have read straight through.
Although very funny there is a gentle sweetness about this tale of expatriation to a land of magic and amazing characters who live both more firmly in the real world and also acknowledge the power of mystery and magic in their day to day lives. You never get the impression that anyone in Morocco spends much time watching telly, so they have to fall back on life.
The Caliph's House made me want to up sticks and move - to remove the safety net of a society obsessed with regulations about the dangers to children of falling conkers (horse chestnuts) and admonishments never to talk to an adult if you are a child. Morocco is painted in such attractive terms - exotic yet accessible with patience and determination - any parent would be happy to see their children grown up there.
A book I shall re-read in a few days time and one I can certainly recommend without any hestitation.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed this book
It's not a difficult book to read but I started it whilst I was in Morocco. There were many situations in the story that I could relate to. Read more
Published 4 months ago by NPrice
5.0 out of 5 stars A good novel from Tahir Shah
A good novel from Tahir Shah. Very nice written. Reading it it is like to be in Casablanca with him.
Published 5 months ago by Mr A Balistreri
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent
Published 6 months ago by Marcus Lynch
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read.
Probably a little 'over- egged' but an interesting an amusing book about life in Morocco
Published 6 months ago by Mary-Anne Popoff
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it!
A wonderful book that describes much of what happened during the relocation of Tahir to Casablanca. The stories that follow in and around the Caliph' s House are like a thrillride... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Naim Zyberi
5.0 out of 5 stars I've fallen in love with Casablanca's warmth and calm
Tahir Shah (an Anglo-afghani) bought a property in Casablanca having felt drawn away to morocco from London. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Janie U
4.0 out of 5 stars an entertaining insight into casablanca life.... or " how the world...
I have just started working in casablanca and wanted to find out about real life... beyond the sometimes negative portrayals of business reviewers - ive only been here a week and... Read more
Published 10 months ago by L. K. Rowley
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful! couldn't put it down
Tahir Shah is truly gifted another great book. Can't wait to read the next one. Delighted to find that he has written a number of books.
Published 11 months ago by clair molton
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting read
Some cracking tails here, from a man who's sanity you might question!

I took this tale to Marrekech on holiday, and it was an excellent read, made me look at my riad... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Mrs. Y. M. Mariess
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!
A really good read. Humorous and interesting and a fascinating way to get to see a side of Moroccan culture that is otherwise well hidden. Highly recommended.
Published 13 months ago by El Rubio
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