By turns hilarious and harrowing, this work by an acclaimed English travel writer is the story of his family's move from the gray skies of London to the sun-drenched city of Casablanca, where Islamic tradition and African folklore converge--and nothing is as easy as it seems.By turns hilarious and harrowing, this work by an acclaimed English travel writer is the story of his family's move from the gray skies of London to the sun-drenched city of Casablanca, where Islamic tradition and African folklore converge--and nothing is as easy as it seems.Read Less
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I am a former literature prof and a life-long lover of reading. I read The Caliph's House in preparation for a month long vacation in Morocco, and I'm glad I did. I loved the gentle, humorous voice of the author, who possesses the rare capacity to bring the reader to tears and laughter almost simultaneously. I appreciated Tahir Shah's concrete descriptions of life on the go in a world that differs substantially from my own. I also admired the way in which the first person narrator is able to befriend such a wide array of individuals...children, lover, workmen, authors, artists, sorcerers, ancient prophets, work-a-day friends, buddies at the local bars. He is a gifted writer. I would recommend all of Tahir Shar's books. If Casablanca is on the list of places you have to visit, reading this book is a great way to stimulate your appetite and mind in advance.
Publishers Weekly, 2005-11-28 When Shah, his pregnant wife and their small daughter move from England to Morocco, where he'd vacationed as a child, he enters a realm of "invisible spirits and their parallel world." Shah buys the Caliph's House, once a palatial compound, now heavy with algae, cobwebs and termites. Unoccupied for a decade, the place harbors a willful jinni (invisible spirit), who Shah, the rational Westerner, reluctantly grasps must be exorcised by traditional means. As Shah remodels the haunted house, he encounters a cast of entertaining, sometimes bizarre characters. Three retainers, whose lives are governed by the jinni, have attached themselves to the property. Confounding craftsmen plague but eventually beautify the house. Intriguing servants come and go, notably Zohra, whose imaginary friend, a 100-foot tall jinni, lives on her shoulder. A "gangster neighbor and his trophy wife" conspire to acquire the Caliph's House, and a countess remembers Shah's grandfather and his secrets. Passers-through offer eccentricity (Kenny, visiting 15 cities on five continents where Casablanca is playing; Pete, a convert to Islam, seeking "a world without America"). There is a thin, dark post-9/11 thread in Shah's elegantly woven tale. The dominant colors, however, are luminous. "[L]ife not filled with severe learning curves was no life at all," Shah observes. Trailing Shah through his is sheer delight. Illus. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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