A man whose family is from Afghanistan, a Christian who can trace his lineage back to the Prophet Mohammed, moves with his India-born wife from London to Casablanca. Not quite the recipe for the individual colonial impulse–but act like a colonial Tahir Shah does.
The book is a chronicle of what happens when a Westerner tries to move to the (for lack of a better term) “East,” and finds that he cannot have the life he envisioned, exactly the way he envisioned it. Shah and his family buy an enourmous, very old house–located smack in the middle of a slum. At every turn, they find Moroccans blocking their way towards their dream life. The house workers won’t open certain doors and won’t explain why, their first assistant becomes convinced that a jinn lives on her shoulder–and the Shah family refuses even to believe in jinns.
In the end, the year in Casablanca is about learning to bend in order to avoid breaking. To allow Moroccans to do things the Moroccan way, and stop trying to act like an Englishman. To stop denying the jinns and their presence in the world, even if not conceding to believe in them.