The Last Watchman of Old Cairo: A Novel (Paperback)

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Description


In this “wonderfully rich” (San Francisco Chronicle) novel from the author of the internationally bestselling The Oracle of Stamboul, a young man journeys from California to Cairo to unravel centuries-old family secrets.
 
“This book is a joy.”—Rabih Alameddine, author of the National Book Award finalist An Unnecessary Woman

WINNER OF: THE AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION’S SOPHIE BRODY AWARD • THE NATIONAL JEWISH BOOK AWARD IN FICTION • THE SAMI ROHR PRIZE FOR JEWISH LITERATURE • Named One of the Ten Best Books of the Year by the BBC • Longlisted for the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association Fiction Prize • A Penguin Random House International One World, One Book Selection • Honorable Mention for the Middle East Book Award
 
Joseph, a literature student at Berkeley, is the son of a Jewish mother and a Muslim father. One day, a mysterious package arrives on his doorstep, pulling him into a mesmerizing adventure to uncover the centuries-old history that binds the two sides of his family. 
 
From the storied Ibn Ezra Synagogue in Old Cairo, where generations of his family served as watchmen, to the lives of British twin sisters Agnes and Margaret, who in 1897 leave Cambridge on a mission to rescue sacred texts that have begun to disappear from the synagogue, this tightly woven multigenerational tale illuminates the tensions that have torn communities apart and the unlikely forces that attempt to bridge that divide. 
 
Moving and richly textured, The Last Watchman of Old Cairo is a poignant portrait of the intricate relationship between fathers and sons, and an unforgettable testament to the stories we inherit and the places we are from.

Praise for The Last Watchman of Old Cairo

“A beautiful, richly textured novel, ambitious and delicately crafted, The Last Watchman of Old Cairo is both a coming-of-age story and a family history, a wide-ranging book about fathers and sons, religion, magic, love, and the essence of storytelling. This book is a joy.”—Rabih Alameddine, author of the National Book Award finalist An Unnecessary Woman

“Lyrical, compassionate and illuminating.”—BBC

“Michael David Lukas has given us an elegiac novel of Cairo—Old Cairo and modern Cairo. Lukas’s greatest flair is in capturing the essence of that beautiful, haunted, shabby, beleaguered yet still utterly sublime Middle Eastern city.”—Lucette Lagnado, author of The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit and The Arrogant Years

“Brilliant.”The Jerusalem Post

About the Author


Michael David Lukas is the author of the internationally bestselling novel The Oracle of Stamboul, which was a finalist for the California Book Award, the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association Book of the Year Award, and the Harold U. Ribalow Prize and has been published in fifteen languages. He has been a Fulbright Scholar in Turkey, a student at the American University of Cairo, and a night-shift proofreader in Tel Aviv. A graduate of Brown University, he has received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. He teaches at San Francisco State University and lives in Oakland, California.

Praise For…


“Wonderfully rich . . . Both met and repressed desires—sensual and intellectual, compassionate and proprietary—create the novel’s driving force. . . . The deep pleasures of this novel come from the interconnecting narratives and how they inform one another [with] a mingling of history and imagination and mystery.”The San Francisco Chronicle

“A beautiful, richly textured novel, ambitious and delicately crafted, The Last Watchman of Old Cairo is both a coming-of-age story and a family history, a wide-ranging book about fathers and sons, religion, magic, love, and the essence of storytelling. This book is a joy.”—Rabih Alameddine, author of the National Book Award finalist An Unnecessary Woman

“Lyrical, compassionate and illuminating.”—BBC

“Michael David Lukas has given us an elegiac novel of Cairo—Old Cairo and modern Cairo. Lukas’s greatest flair is in capturing the essence of that beautiful, haunted, shabby, beleaguered yet still utterly sublime Middle Eastern city.”—Lucette Lagnado, author of The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit and The Arrogant Years

“Brilliant . . . Lukas’s writing explodes with imaginative force and splendor [and he] demonstrates in this novel his sublime ability to enchant us with unforgettable characters and moving stories that linger with us long after we have finished his magical book.”The Jerusalem Post

“Lukas writes marvelously about Old Cairo, a city he cherishes. . . . The Last Watchman of Old Cairo delivers in polyphonic textures a timeless yet contemporary story set in ancient and modern Cairo and Berkeley.”The San Jose Mercury News

“Weaving together characters from medieval Cairo, Victorian Britain, and contemporary Berkeley, Michael David Lukas has crafted a rich, highly readable story. His themes—the ties between generations, between the West and Egypt, and between Jews and Muslims—are bittersweet and timely. His plot is beautifully paced, and his characters break your heart, even when they have to reach across the generations to do so.”—Carla Power, author of the Pulitzer finalist If the Oceans Were Ink

“Of the novels set in Egypt, few if any have understood how Cairo’s place at the crossroads of many religions has broken communities’ and families’ hearts through the centuries. This novel explores the center of Cairo’s oldest places through the story of one family and their search for a mysterious artifact, and for closure.”—Trevor Naylor, American University in Cairo Bookstore

“Captivating . . . Lukas’s warmly affecting sophomore work largely examines what happens to all that life, its memories and stories, when the people experiencing it are gone. . . . Novels like Lukas’s can believe in the potential of another version of the world, whether we call it possible or magical or both.”East Bay Express

“I just finished a wonderful novel by Michael David Lukas, The Last Watchman of Old Cairo. . . . I read the first few pages and I was hooked.”—Jeffrey Garret, Chicago Tribune

“[A] romantic gem . . . Lukas’s desert outing soars thanks to its themes of inclusion and forgiveness. Deceptively brief, The Last Watchman of Old Cairo charms with its cast of misfits and lost souls who find their way with the dream of the Ezra Scroll to guide them.”Shelf Awareness (starred review)

“Evocative . . . Lukas turns the Egyptian city into a tantalizingly seductive place of mystery.”—Publishers Weekly

“Fascinating . . . Blending his fictional creations with real characters . . . Lukas creates a thoroughly credible mystery [and] an appealing family drama.”Kirkus Reviews

“Part mystery, part character study, yet historically accurate, this book should appeal to a broad swath of readers.”—Library Journal

“Lukas’ lyrical novel draws readers into a classic tale of family secrets, forbidden love, and religious rivalry that spans generations. . . . Parallel stories . . . intersect at a crucial juncture as family legends unfurl, coalesce, and enlighten.”Booklist
Product Details
ISBN: 9780399181184
ISBN-10: 0399181180
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
Publication Date: May 19th, 2020
Pages: 288