The Caliph's House: A Year in Casablanca

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Doubleday, 2006 - Dwellings - 356 pages
258 Reviews
Look into the eyes of a jinn and you stare into the depths of your own soul (Moroccan proverb) 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 somewhere far removed from London - a place bursting with life, colour, history and romance - 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, long-abandoned (but for its jinns) mansion 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, 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 to mention the original neighbours from hell and the jinns, those 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 something of his grandfather, and of coming to love this magical, multi-faceted, contradictory country.

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Review: The Caliph's House: A Year in Casablanca

User Review  - Goodreads

This book helps build a feel for the culture of Morocco through the exaggerated and witty tellings of Tahir's move and what it was like to get setup there. It brings to life things like Jin's, work ... Read full review

Review: The Caliph's House: A Year in Casablanca

User Review  - Goodreads

This book was suggested to me by a friend as she headed off to Morocco, so I thought that I would read it myself. The story might create a little wanderlust for Casablanca - but it is only a 2 star ... Read full review


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About the author (2006)

Born in 1966 into a distinguished Afghan family (his father was the philosopher Idries Shah), Tahir Shah is the author of 10 books including Sorcerer's Apprentice, In Search of King Solomon's Mines and House of the Tiger King. A member of the Royal Geographical Society, he is also a documentary film-maker and photographer and lives in Casablanca with his wife and two children.

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