In Arabian Nights
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In Arabian Nights

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  759 ratings  ·  110 reviews
Tahir Shah’s The Caliph’s House, describing his first year in Casablanca, was hailed by critics and compared to such travel classics as A Year in Provence and Under the Tuscan Sun. Now Shah takes us deeper into the heart of this exotic and magical land to uncover mysteries that have been hidden from Western eyes for centuries.…

In this entertaining and penetrating book, Ta...more
Kindle Edition, 436 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2007)
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Ashley Lauren
This is the only book I have ever finished and immediately wanted to re-read. I would have; but I really want to buy a paper copy and read it that way instead. I'm abroad right now, but when I get back in the states I will own this! I'm also planning on reading just about everything Tahir Shah has written.

So why? Why am I so ga-ga over this book? One of my greatest loves in life is traveling and this book just oozes with the emotions of a traveler. Shah is an individual who is restless, who is c...more
It took me a while to get through this book because it was so rich on so many levels. I am not passing this one on (sorry girls!) because I feel like I will have to read it many more times to get everything. It's a rich story within a story, where as the author describes the lines between fiction and lore are blended, much like the history and culture in Morocco.

So, now of course, I would like to add Morocco to one of the 1000 places to see before I die, despite the many negative things I have h...more
Siddharth Gupta
“Real travel is not about the highlights with which you dazzle your friends once you're home. It's about the loneliness, the solitude, the evenings spent by yourself, pining to be somewhere else. Those are the moments of true value. You feel half proud of them and half ashamed and you hold them to your heart.”
Anne Goranson

Couldn't put this book down! Tahir Shah made me dream of flying carpets and the story in my heart! Highly recommend!!
While the author's first book "The Caliph's House" transported me on a magic carpet ride through the vibrants sights and sounds of Morocco, "In Arabian Nights" was bit of a disappointment. In this novel, Shah is in eager search for the story in his heart and travels all across Morocco solo and once with his family to uncover his own personal story. After grudgingly ploughing through 300+ pages, I have yet to determine what the story in his heart was.

The focus and flow of this novel was very haph...more
Христо Блажев
Обратно сред джиновете, притчите и мъдростта на арабската митология:

Очаквах с голямо нетърпение следващата книга на Тахир Шах. “Къщата на халифа” искрено ме очарова и желанието да се върна в екзотичното Мароко, което през европейския му поглед е абсурдно красиво, чудно, гротескно-абсурдно до симпатичност най-сетне се осъществи. “В хиляда и една нощи” получи мигновено преимущество пред всички книги, защото просто не мога да устоя на доза удоволствие, особе...more
This travel book/memoir picks up where "The Caliph's House" left off, with the author and his family living in a mysterious, exotic home in Casablanca. Technically, it starts in a prison in Pakistan, but that is only for the first chapter.
The theme of "In Arabian Nights" is storytelling, thus the reference in the title to "Arabian Nights," aka "A Thousand and One Nights." "A Thousand and One Nights" also is referred to frequently in "In Arabian Nights," particularly a translation by Richard Burt...more
I realize I'm in the minority but I just didn't care for this book that much. The stories he recounted were interesting but I felt he got very repetitive and preachy when talking about how important the stories were. There was, occasionally, the tendency to over generalize as well, about the nobility that comes with being poor and that is lost if you get money, as well as how much wisdom the West has lost by modernization. There is some truth there but I don't think it's as bad as the author mak...more
I loved reading “The Caliph’s House.” The house renovations and Shah’s family adjusting to their new lives in Morocco was the focus.

The opening chapter in this next volume in Shah’s life is a recollection of his brutal imprisonment in Pakistan. While he does go back and further discuss that experience, I failed to see where it actually melded into the overall context of this book. Perhaps he should have written a short story specifically about that ordeal.

The main focus of the book is Shah tra...more
Once in awhile you come across a book so wonderful that like a hidden treasure, part of you doesn’t want to let anyone know about it and the other wants to tell everyone. This is how In Arabian Nights: A Caravan of Moroccan Dreams by Tahir Shah is for me. After eyeing a beautiful leatherbound version of The Arabian Nights by Richard Francis Burton, I had wandered over to the travel books trying to make up my mind about whether to purchase the massive book of tales. As I stood scanning the travel...more
Loved the Caliph's House and was hoping for more of the same, but I gave up two thirds of the way through this book. I found Tahir Shah's "search for the story inside" was just not enough of a story for me, and I trudged on hoping for something interesting to happen. It didn't. I also became irritated with his obvious distaste for all things western and his reverence for all things Moroccan. And does Tahir Shah ever meet women he admires or even likes? Can't judge a book by its cover.
My new favorite book! Opening this book is like climbing onto the magic carpet Tahir Shah describes from his dream and going along on a fabulous journey. I did not want the story to end, but to go on night after night. He is a modern-day Sherherazade.
Fiona Leonard
On the edge of the desert a woman took In Arabian Nights from my hands. She smiled, 'Yes, I'm reading it.' She held it to her chest, the pages locked within her grip. 'It was recommended to me; a great read.' She turned away.

In retrospect, if I'd known how good it was I might have considered fighting her for it...

In Arabian Nights is one of the few books I've read where the thought 'I must reread this', ran as constant background noise in my head. This is a story about stories. It is a story abo...more
A clever story about story telling from a skilled story teller. This book truly enhanced my travels through Morocco. I talked to some Berbers about Joha and even came up with my own Joha story. I also tried to steer clear of jinns.
While the main subject and concept of a frame story encompassing other stories is cute, In Arabian Nights disappointed me. Perhaps it was because I had expected too much due to the fact that some of my favorite ingredients were listed on the cover. However, I must still admit that I found the story a bit thin and whiney, and that Shah is guilty of exactly that which I warn my students against; he told the story and did not show it the way Dalia Sofer does for example in The Septembers of Shiraz....more
Thomas Hübner

Some time ago I reviewed The Last Storytellers by Richard Hamilton, a book that collects some of the tales of the last storytellers of Marrakech. Also the book about which I am writing today dives deep into the world of Moroccan storytellers.

Tahir Shah, the author of In Arabian Nights, is well equipped to undertake this journey into the heart of Morocco through its stories and storytellers. He has roots in the Orient (his family comes originally from Afghanista...more
this book was a treasure that i was lucky to find, it is woven with magic, the kind you feel but cant see or hold,you only can sense the charm woven within the pages.

when i choose this book i thought it was stories about Arabian-Nights, it wasn't, but it did dive into the same realm, the author takes you into Morocco where he describes the concept of story telling and the importance of it,and finding that he needs to find the story in his heart,so through his old memories with his father -a well...more
When I read Tahir Shah, I'm always transmitted to a new way of knowing. This time a magic carpet took me to Morocco and the land of the Arabian Nights. Shah's father was a storyteller - a writer of collected stories, and a collector and teller of stories. Stories, to both father and son, have lessons to tell although the lessons may not be obvious, even to those whose culture they come from. Like Japanese koans, they need to be savored, thought about but more especially, absorbed without thinkin...more
Susan Stewart
Tahir Shah is a great story teller. He takes us behind the walls deep in the medinas, into the male dominated cafes, and into the salt mines in the Moroccan desert as he tries, in the Bedouin tradition, to find the story in his heart.

It is wonderful to read about someone who understands the value of oral story telling. Shah, an Anglo/Afghan writer comes from a long line of story tellers and he has inherited and developed a wonderful way to describe his adventures with his family in Morocco as h...more
Daniel Landsman
Tahir Shah has weaved together so many entertaining short stories into a larger frame story in this book. The frame story is Tahir's search for the "story in his heart", and although the concept is a bit out there, he humbly presents his search and makes you believe in it.

There are plenty of fun tales of his Moroccan house-workers and there superstition-driven misadventures. Also, there are tales related by characters in the book that comes from the rich history of eastern story-telling.

The book...more
Simon Brooks
I finished this book last night and I did not want it to end. A friend of mine gave this to me and I am thrilled he did as it has provided a new author to my list of writers I love. Tahir Shah writes in such a way that one feels all the highs and lows of life, although the lows are few!
The story is of Shah's life in Morocco and stories he finds and shares with others on the roads he takes. The title is a huge clue to the fact that there are stories within stories. To liken it to the Arabian Nigh...more
A story about stories, about THE stories: The Arabian Nights. Shah's memoir wraps you in stories and their meanings. Their importance in a preliterate and illiterate society. What a life he's had...his father, Idries,steeped him in stories and seems to be an important author in his own right...his grandfather was a storyteller also.

Shah has lots of layers going on here, as a good story should: His family, his house and his crazy servants -- the maids fighting over his son, the Guardians trying t...more
There was a lot to like in this book. Shah describes Morocco vividly, so that you get a feel for the way of life as well as the scenery. The stories cropping up within his own story are often delightful. Getting to know the rather eccentric staff at his house was entertaining.

At the same time, somewhere not quite to the halfway mark, I started to wonder if Shah found anything at all he liked about Western culture. He seemed to always be giving ways that Moroccan culture (and to an extent, other...more
Tahir Shah describes the people, places, passions, and stories of Morocco as he lives and travels there. He is on a mission to collect and preserve the stories people tell as well as find his own story. He succeeds at both, and passes them along to us as well. Teaching and learning in that region of the world are accomplished by storytelling, and has been so for millenium. Think Jesus and Mohammed -- both great storytellers -- used it as a way of teaching.

I am looking forward to re-visiting Mar...more
I so, so, so do not recommend this book. The whole entire thing is built on the "Those Kooky Orientals" Trope, which is especially unfortunate considering Shah is one himself--well, maybe not kooky, but...just don't. Don't pay money to laugh at people under the rouse of "learning about another culture."

I tell you the one good thing about this book: Shah addresses the Man Cafe issue: Commonly men in Morocco wile the hours away over a cup of tea with their homes (as in hombres)--the thing is, wome...more
Ann Hein
I think I would have liked this book no matter what, but having just been to Morocco I really loved it. Tahir Shah's description of places we'd been such as the medina of Fes or the square of Marrakesh were just too good. I will use his quotes in my scrapbook journaling. It's more than a travelogue (since the author lives in Morocco.) The book is also full of Arabian folk tales that Shah shares with us.
"In Arabian Nights" is non-fiction, and yet there is also a lot of fiction nestled in the book. The author had a natural way of taking his readers along on his journeys, both those inward and in the material world, which I found quite enjoyable. I was peeved at times when Shah described some other men as victims of their wives' domineering tendencies. It just seemed like he was feeding into some stereotype about women. I know that Shah has done a lot in the past to bring awareness to the plight...more
I rarely take the time to write a review for the books I read much to the dismay of my fellow prolific review giving goodreads friends however here's one book that motivated me to say something about it.

I started reading this before my trip to Morocco earlier this year and it was a bit of a slow read. It didn't quite move at a pace where I couldn't put it down until pg 120 which is a good thing considering it's a 378 pages memoir. If you've visited Morocco or plan to I have to tell you Tahir Sh...more
there is a depth to this book that I enjoyed, but would have enjoyed it more if it was shorter. after a couple hundred pages my mind stopped thinking deeply and became bored by a repetitive story. great read for people who love travel books.
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Tahir Shah is the author of fifteen books, many of which chronicle a wide range of outlandish journeys through Africa, Asia and the Americas. For him, there’s nothing so important as deciphering the hidden underbelly of the lands through which he travels. Shunning well-trodden tourist paths, he avoids celebrated landmarks, preferring instead to position himself on a busy street corner or in a dust...more
More about Tahir Shah...
The Caliph's House: A Year in Casablanca Sorcerer's Apprentice In Search of King Solomon's Mines Trail of Feathers: In Search of the Birdmen of Peru Timbuctoo

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“Settling into a new country is like getting used to a new pair of shoes. At first they pinch a little, but you like the way they look, so you carry on. The longer you have them, the more comfortable they become. Until one day without realizing it you reach a glorious plateau. Wearing those shoes is like wearing no shoes at all. The more scuffed they get, the more you love them and the more you can't imagine life without them.” 24 likes
“My father used to say that stories are part of the most precious heritage of mankind.” 23 likes
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