Tahir Shah Sorcerer's apprentice

ISBN 13: 9780140285710

Sorcerer's apprentice

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9780140285710: Sorcerer's apprentice

Author's travel accounts in India.

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Review:

Do you nurse the fond desire to try your hand--or feet, that is--at firewalking? Go ahead. Tahir Shah writes in this beautifully conceived and executed work of literary travel, "Contrary to popular belief, firewalking is dead simple. The skin on the soles of the feet and the ash which covers the coals are both poor conductors of heat. Anyone can do it."

Do we dare trust Shah's word on this point? Maybe so, maybe not, for, though another character in his book bears the sobriquet, Shah is a superbly engaging trickster. The English-born scion of Afghani nobility, Shah takes his readers on a whirlwind trip across southern India that has at its heart one of the most unusual missions in goal-directed travel literature: namely, to find and learn the art of magic from one of India's greatest practitioners, a mysterious fellow named Hakim Feroze. Finding the master in Calcutta, Shah begs Feroze to accept him as a student; unfortunately, as we see, Feroze does so, though not without hesitation. Shah takes us inside sorcery boot camp, which involves strange drills such as digging a deep hole with a dessert spoon, left-handed; separating dried rice and lentils blindfolded; and catching a dozen cockroaches at once in a small tin mug. In recounting his education, Shah reveals a few professional secrets. For one, the Indian rope trick, that classic of conjuring, is effected not by legerdemain, but by the use of hallucinogenic smoke. And as to snake charming, well, 90 percent of India's snakes are nonvenomous, and it's easy enough to find a nonfatal variety that looks like one of the killer breeds.

Full of conjures and trickery, Shah's book offers an often humorous, sidelong education in the dark arts and more: it brings readers along on a surreal tour of India, affording a window to places well off the tourist track. It all adds up to a first-rate adventure. --Gregory McNamee

About the Author:

Tahir Shah was born into Afghan nobility in 1966 and grew up in England. He has worked for the Institute of Cultural Research and with the Institute for the Study of Human Knowledge and has written widely on the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa, and South America. When not traveling, he lives in London.

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Shah, Tahir
Published by Penguin Books 1998-01-01 (1998)
ISBN 10: 0140285717 ISBN 13: 9780140285710
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Tahir Shah
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Tahir Shah
Published by Penguin Books (1998)
ISBN 10: 0140285717 ISBN 13: 9780140285710
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
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Irish Booksellers
(Rumford, ME, U.S.A.)
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Book Description Penguin Books, 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0140285717

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