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Tag: 1001 nights

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May 24, 2013 Posted by tahir in Books

Last Chance on Scorpion Soup

Scorpion_Soup-01If you haven’t yet purchased your copy of the limited edition Scorpion Soup hardcover, now is the time to do so. I have uploaded it to Amazon, and the price will increase as of June 8th. This is your last chance to get it at its reduced price directly from my website.

I think I mentioned to you before the hardcover was released that I wanted to make it available to my readers at a discounted price before uploading it to Amazon. It’s been out for a few months now, and it’s time to shift the sales to Amazon.

Get your copy now.

Scorpion Soup is also available as an ebook:

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

También está disponible en español: Sopa de escorpión

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

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Q&A with Tahir Shah

Tahir_bio_pic 2013bI just did a Q&A with myself, based on some of the questions I’m asked on a regular basis.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WRITING FICTION AND NON-FICTION?

There are both huge differences and huge similarities. For me, book writing (any writing for that matter) is about storytelling. Tell the story in the right way and the reader will do a kind of dance through your work. The most important thing for me is that my reader has the right experience, and that’s achieved by giving a great deal of thought to the way a passage will be read. I devote time to thinking about the reader whether I’m writing fiction or non-fiction.

Naturally, though, with fiction you can let yourself loose a whole lot more. But, having said that, I think there’s enormous scope for non-fiction writers (especially travel writers) in observing what they think they know and understand, in new ways. It’s a great challenge, but one that pays great dividends when you get it right.

HOW DO YOU COME UP WITH IDEAS FOR NOVELS? Read more

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March 21, 2013 Posted by tahir in Books

Get Your Limited Edition Copy of Scorpion Soup

Scorpion Soup by Tahir ShahAs announced on my Facebook page yesterday, Scorpion Soup has now reached the UK warehouse, which means that all orders to the UK and to continental Europe will be available for shipping starting this afternoon.

There were some questions about shipping costs to continental Europe, and we’ve found a less expensive way to take care of this, so all book orders to continental Europe will pay the same as the UK orders. They will be sent via Royal Mail.

Order one copy of Scorpion Soup to the UK or to continental Europe using this link. Generally speaking, books will be shipped within 24 hours after an order is placed, for Monday-Friday orders.

Pre-orders for the US can be placed using this link. All orders will be uploaded to our fulfilment system as soon as they’re received by us. The books should reach the US warehouse this week or next, and books will ship out automatically as soon as they’re checked into the warehouse.

As I mentioned before, we’ve tried to keep the purchase price on this book as low as possible, which is why I’m only making them available for sale through my website for a limited time. Once they go online to other retailers, we’ll have to raise the price to cover commissions and fees.

At this point, there are links to purchase one copy or five copies. If you would like a different amount, please email secretum.mundi at gmail dot com, and someone can check on the cost of shipping for you.

Many, many thanks for reading! I hope you enjoy this book.

 

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Scorpion Soup: ebook available now!

scorpion_soup_EBOOKcover SMALLIf you’ve been following me on Facebook, you know that the ebook edition of Scorpion Soup was released earlier this week. It’s already received several reviews on Goodreads, as well as Amazon US and Amazon UK, and it’s been featured on at least one blog that I’ve seen so far.

Scorpion Soup has its own website, with a full list of the eighteen stories, a discussion of the  frame story, my take on storytelling, and some background information on the Blaeu maps, ten of which are included in the limited edition hardcover of Scorpion Soup.

The ebook is currently available for purchase on Amazon US and Amazon UK, and it will be available shortly on other major ebook retailers, such as Apple, Barnes & Noble, Gardners, Ingram, Kobo and Waterstones.

If you’re looking forward to the limited edition hardcover, with its 10 fold-out maps, it will be released on March 25th. It’s been prepared along the lines of Timbuctoo, with the same attention to detail. It’s available for pre-purchase now on the Scorpion Soup website.

I hope you enjoy it. Thank you for reading!

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Forthcoming projects...

I’m often asked about what I’m working on. Here’s a sneak peek into what’s in the works at the moment:

Scorpion Soup (In Production)

A story within a story, the book is inspired by The Arabian Nights in its use of a frame tale. One story leads to another, taking the reader down through numerous levels. The idea is derived partly from my fascination for The Arabian Nights, as well as my love for my grandfather’s book THE GOLDEN PILGRIMAGE — in which fellow travellers to and from Mecca relate their own tales.

Hannibal Fogg and the Supreme Secret of Man (In Production)

An epic work of fiction, I wrote Hannibal Fogg back in 2009, with the intention of creating a character that would satisfy my obsession for the obscure, the fantastic, and all the places I had been to but never really spoken of.

The House of Wisdom (In Production)

Having lectured on the legacy of Arab science, I have taken every opportunity to draw attention to the extraordinary contribution that Arab science from the Abbasid era — the ‘Golden Age’ of Islam — has played in the development of Occidental know how and science. Named after the Bayt al Hikma, The House of Wisdom is a fast-paced thriller that considers the roles of Arab science from the great polymaths of the Abbasid age.

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My Best Friend

 

Dar Khalifa is large, spread out, encircled by gardens and, beyond them, girdled by the shantytown. Very often, I scoop up a clutch of random people and drag them home to eat. Few things excite me more than seating half a dozen strangers around the dining table for good food and lively conversation. Rachana (who insists I have no spam filter on my friends) doesn’t quite understand my craving for people. I think it’s a family thing, ie from my family, something I must have acquired from my father. Just like him, I can’t help myself but collect people… the stranger the better.

     So, often, the house is full of voices, the sound of cutlery clattering on plates, and glasses clinking together. And, on those days and nights, I am content. But then, on mornings like today, when I am home alone, I feel something different, yet equally pleasing. It’s perhaps my greatest Moroccan friendship of all… the one I share with Dar Khalifa itself.

     This house is not quite like other houses. You see, it’s magical, the kind of place conjured from a child’s imagination. It’s made from stone, quarried nearby, and it feels alive… as if it knows I’m inside. Right now I am in the library, staring out at the riad, the courtyard garden, where tortoises amble slowly through the shade. And I am thankful, most of all to my great friend, Dar Khalifa, for touching our lives with magic… the kind only Morocco knows.

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Pictures of Dar Khalifa

Here are some pictures taken this last week by an American photographer, Nadia Diboun.


http://www.pixagogo.com/8619904235

You can visit her blog, here:





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The End Game

The grandson of Genghis Khan, Hulagu Khan, set out for Baghdad in 1257 with a vast army. The Caliph refused to surrender, and enraged the Mongol leader with threats and taunting. Worse still, he hadn’t strengthened the city walls or prepared for a siege, perhaps believing his own publicity that his capital was impregnable. As a result victory was swift (the siege was less then two weeks).

Baghdad was sacked and burned to the ground. The waters of the Tigris supposedly ran black with ink for months from all the ink, from the House of Wisdom and other great  libraries, which were hurled into the river.

The Caliph was rolled up in a rug and the Mongols rode their horses over him. So great was the stench of death and decay that Hulagu had to move his camp upwind of the city.



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The Starting Point

The point where I want to begin the story is the moment at which paper — that most magical aids to the spread of learning — was acquired by the Arabs. The second of the two great Islamic Caliphates, the Abbasids, ruled from 750 AD (after overthrowing the Umayyads), with their capital at Baghdad — having moved from the Umayyad capital of Damascus. Baghdad in the ninth century, a city of 800,000 souls, second city in the world to only Constantinople. It was ruled by the Abbasid Caliph Harun ar-Rachid.

The mixture of people in the city, from so many cultures – Europe, North Africa, Asia Minor and Central Asia – created a blend of cultures as it had never really been known before. And they could all communicate through Arabic, the lingua franca of Islam, all equal under this new faith.

Harun, who’s known more for his Alf Layla wa Layla, ‘1001 Nights’, set about accumulating books in huge a private library. He loved poetry, music, learning. Whenever he heard of learned people, he invited them to his court. The idea of wisdom being rewarded spread, and scholars made their way from the corners of the growing Islamic world to Baghdad.

In March 809 Harun ar-Rachid was succeeded by his son Al-Amin, (but he was killed four years later, in 813, after going against the order of succession left by his father). His half-brother, al-Ma’mun, became Caliph, and it’s with him that our story really begins…

Like his father, Ma’mun was fascinated by learning, and was eager to know how the world and the universe worked. He built up the library founded by his father, and brought together scholars from every corner of the world, from known every religion, speaking every language. He dispatched messengers to bring to Baghdad every book, document, and sensible man in existence… and bring it back to his centre of learning, which became known as Bayt al Hikma… The House of Wisdom.



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