Breaking news; I found my story telling soul mate! Tahir Shah doesn’t know that we are story mates yet, but we are. After landing on (and basically inhaling) The Caliph’s House one lazy Sunday, I’m convinced it was some sort of diving intervention that brought the book to me. After reading The Caliph’s House, I immediately started on the second book in this series called In Arabian Nights. Book two was the kind of read that will stay with me forever. It’s in my bones now.
Book 1: The Caliph’s House by Tahir Shah
I have always been enchanted by the Middle East, Morocco, and Egypt. Something about these faraway mystical lands draws me to them, and time and time again I find myself reading stories about genies and mystics, caravans and crowded markets. I’ve never read a story from one of those places that was as entertaining and gripping as The Caliph’s House. The most unreal part is, The Caliph’s House isn’t a story, it’s a memoir. Tahir Shah shares his journey from London to Morocco, and brings us along for one heck of a year! Buying a house in Casablanca, working to restore it to it’s original glory, and dealing with jinns and jinxes along the way. I couldn’t put the book down.
Book 2: In Arabian Nights by Tahir Shah
This book took my breath away. The second chapter of Tahir Shah’s life in Morocco centres around trying to find “the story in your heart”. This practice comes from an ancient Moroccan tribe, and the author describes it so beautifully that the quest just sucks you in. The book takes us across Morocco from the Sahara and Casablanca to Fez and Tangier – all the while sharing the value of stories as they are passed from generation to generation.
If you love travel and storytelling you have to read these books. It has been a long time since I said this, but Tahir Shah made a spot in my favourite writers of all time. If I’m ever asked that question about who I would invite to my ultimate dinner party again, for the first time ever, I’ll have a seat for a guy. (I’ve always picked women writers in that exercise).
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