Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: tahir-shah
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
review 2014-01-15 12:45
Casablanca Blues by Tahir Shah

Casablanca Blues front coverCasablanca Blues is another exciting, gripping, fast-paced, well crafted and atmospheric read from travel writer turned fiction author Tahir Shah. Personally, I found this to be Shah's best fictional work thus far.

The central character of the book, Blaine Williams, is obsessed by the classic film Casablanca and its own stars, Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, and is going through a mid-life crisis. This doesn't last very long, however, for early in the book, Shah pulls the rug from under him, again and again. Although written in different genres, this reminded me of Catherine Cookson's trademark, in which time and again, she'd shock the reader or wake them from complacency by deliberately thwarting a character or throwing them in the deep end.

As the story and Blaine Williams' character develops, however, we see that what seems like cruel fate or bad luck is perhaps a blessing in disguise. What impedes Williams and pushes him into crisis actually drags him out of a hole. Rising to the occasion – however challenging – he is propelled forward into a whole new life, and liberation, that until then he could only have obsessed and fantasized about.

All the while the author, who lives in Morocco with his family, paints an entertaining and perceptive picture of life in the land, enticing the reader to go there and share the wonderful experience. As for the eventual outcome, I don't want to give away the storyline, except to say that it greatly pleased me.

In summary, Casablanca Blues is a great read and I heartily recommend it.

Disclaimer: I first began reading Idries Shah's work (Tahir Shah's father) in the mid-1980s and later came across Tahir Shah's own writing. I was asked if I would read through a pre-publication draft of the work in PDF format, but I was not asked to write a review. This is a voluntary and honest review.

Like Reblog Comment
review 2013-09-25 00:00
Legends of the Fire Spirits: Jinn and Genies from Arabia to Zanzibar
Legends of the Fire Spirits: Jinn and Genies from Arabia to Zanzibar - Robert W. Lebling,Tahir Shah A very interesting, scholarly book about everything related to jinn/genies. This book covers the nature of jinn, their origins (before and during Islam), jinn behaviors, types of jinn, historical encounters, locations and jinn in cultural contexts. No "new-agey", fluffy stuff.
Like Reblog Comment
review 2013-03-18 00:00
The Caliph's House: A Year in Casablanca - Tahir Shah I admire here, as in his other books, Shah's ability to soak up an environment and describe details and conversations that heighten both its familiar and alien aspects. That said, if someone hung a cat where my child could see it, however much I understood the culture, I'd have my family on the next train out. Since Tahir travels a lot, in a semi-planned way similar to the renovation, I suppose Rachana knew what she was getting into when she married him. I'd like to know more about her and how she experienced the move, renovation, and life in the house.
Like Reblog Comment
review 2012-07-21 00:00
Trail of Feathers: In Search of the Birdmen of Peru - Tahir Shah Shah turns a pretty phrase, even when it's about shrunken heads or disgusting food. Here he pursues the legend of the birdmen, a quest that includes colorful and sometimes alarming fellow travelers, grave robbing, hallucinogenic vines, crumbling textiles, matter-of-fact mystics, and the Nazca lines. Shah is neither a curmudgeonly character like Theroux nor a macho creep like some travel writers whom out of delicacy I shall not name. Instead, he lets the reader in on his hopes, his discomforts, and his apparently genial willingness to subject himself to traditional treatments for a variety of discomforts, including parasites in his pants, as he seeks answers to many, sometimes related, questions. Readable and quick-paced, it will cause the reader to be actively delighted that she isn't eating rat stew or picking wolf spiders out of her hair.
Like Reblog Comment
review 2012-07-15 00:00
The Caliph's House: A Year in Casablanca
The Caliph's House: A Year in Casablanca - Tahir Shah The Caliph's House is an account of the first year Shah and his family spent in Casablanca, renovating a dilapidated traditional house and attempting to fit in with the locals.Unfortunately, not all of my expectations were met. In many ways, The Caliph's House is a wonderful book full of simple but absorbing writing and Shah certainly does a good job at describing Casablanca and Morocco itself. Although there are sketches included, they aren't really necessary as, reading the book, I felt as if I was actually there with Shah and his family. The culture of the Moroccans (for example their belief in Jinns) is described with respect but a gentle humour that shows the high regard Shah has for his adopted country. As someone who has often daydreamed about packing everything in and moving to an exotic location, I enjoyed reading about the renovation of the house and how the traditional Moroccan artisans worked. But this was also where I felt the book fell down a bit; Shah's writing is much more suited to stories and atmospheres, not practicalities like finding a carpenter or fixing a sewerage pipe. The passages about the Moroccans and his visits around the country were enchanting, but the renovation sections seemed to drag. There's only so many times I needed to read about workers not turning up on time or the guardians of the house panicking about something the resident Jinn might or might not have done.All that is not to say The Caliph's House isn't a wonderful book - it is. It's just that In Arabian Nights is better (more about Morocco, less about house renovation) and I happened to read that first. The Caliph's House was worth reading for the descriptions and for the friendships Shah struck up with some of the Moroccans in the slum bordering his house; I had a soft spot for the refined stamp collector, Hicham. I look forward to reading some of Shah's other books in the future, particularly In Search of King Solomon's Mines and Trail of Feathers, about Peru.
More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?