The Caliph's House by Tahir Shah

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 5 Critic Reviews



In the tradition of A Year in Provence and Under the Tuscan Sun, acclaimed English travel writer Tahir Shah shares a highly entertaining account of making an exotic dream come true. By turns hilarious and harrowing, here 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….

Inspired by the Moroccan vacations of his childhood, Tahir Shah dreamed of making a home in that astonishing country. At age thirty-six he got his chance. Investing what money he and his wife, Rachana, had, Tahir packed up his growing family and bought Dar Khalifa, a crumbling ruin of a mansion by the sea in Casablanca that once belonged to the city’s caliph, or spiritual leader.

With its lush grounds, cool, secluded courtyards, and relaxed pace, life at Dar Khalifa seems sure to fulfill Tahir’s fantasy–until he discovers that in many ways he is farther from home than he imagined. For in Morocco an empty house is thought to attract jinns, invisible spirits unique to the Islamic world. The ardent belief in their presence greatly hampers sleep and renovation plans, but that is just the beginning. From elaborate exorcism rituals involving sacrificial goats to dealing with gangster neighbors intent on stealing their property, the Shahs must cope with a new culture and all that comes with it.

Endlessly enthralling, The Caliph’s House charts a year in the life of one family who takes a tremendous gamble. As we follow Tahir on his travels throughout the kingdom, from Tangier to Marrakech to the Sahara, we discover a world of fierce contrasts that any true adventurer would be thrilled to call home.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Tahir Shah

See more books from this Author
Tahir Shah was born into an Anglo-Afghan family with roots in the mountain stronghold of the Hindu Kush. His ten books have chronicled a series of fabulous journeys. He lives with his wife and two children in Casablanca.From the Hardcover edition.
Published January 31, 2006 by Bantam. 368 pages
Genres: Travel. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Caliph's House

The New York Times

See more reviews from this publication

For Dar Khalifa was infested not only with all manner of earthly pests but also — according to its caretakers, whom Shah inherited when he purchased the property — with Jinns, magical spirits that love to haunt unoccupied houses.

Mar 19 2006 | Read Full Review of The Caliph's House

The Guardian

See more reviews from this publication

The Caliph's House by Tahir Shah 368pp, Doubleday, £15 In the spring of 2003 Tahir Shah was living in London with his pregnant wife, Rachana, and their daughter, Ariane.

Mar 04 2006 | Read Full Review of The Caliph's House

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

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."

Nov 28 2005 | Read Full Review of The Caliph's House

Entertainment Weekly

Fed up with London's dreary weather and frenetic pace, British travel writer Tahir Shah packs up his family and moves to Casablanca, where he's bought a run-down, termite-infested mansion just waiting to be restored to its mid-20th century glory.

Feb 08 2006 | Read Full Review of The Caliph's House

Bookmarks Magazine

ISBN: 0553803999 NY Times Book Review 4 of 5 Stars "Shah himself is no negligible craftsman—with words, that is—and his somewhat predictable narrative is enlivened by well-wrought descriptions of life in Casablanca: a place suspended between modernity and the Middle Ages, between Europe a...

Aug 29 2007 | Read Full Review of The Caliph's House

Reader Rating for The Caliph's House

An aggregated and normalized score based on 150 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes

Rate this book!

Add Review