The Last Watchman of Old Cairo by Michael David Lukas

The Last Watchman of Old Cairo

In this spellbinding novel, a young man journeys from California to Cairo to unravel centuries-old family secrets.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 tangled history that binds the two sides of his family. For generations, the men of the al-Raqb family have served as watchmen of th...

Details The Last Watchman of Old Cairo

TitleThe Last Watchman of Old Cairo
Release DateMar 13th, 2018
PublisherSpiegel & Grau
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Northern Africa, Egypt, Cultural, Africa

Reviews The Last Watchman of Old Cairo

  • Carol
    Last Watchman of Cairo tells its story via three loosely related threads and timelines. In contemporaneous America, the Muslim Egyptian father of Joseph – the last watchman referenced in the title -- has died, and he has had a friend deliver to Joseph a keepsake without explanation. Joseph, raised exclusively by his Jewish Egyptian (by birth) mother in the US, had a cordial relationship with his father, at least until his father learned Joseph ...
  • Tammy
  • Michael
    If I am not for myself who will be for me?
  • Bandit
    Time for some armchair traveling. This time not only geographically, but temporally, with this lovely work of historical fiction revolving (via three interconnected timelines) around a legendary Torah scroll. Back in the day when Egyptians might have been somewhat more tolerant, there was a thriving Jewish community there, eventually forced to flee the country during the foreign cleansing of 1956. There was a magnificent synagogue and watched ove...
  • Gaele
    Joseph is the son of Egyptian parents, born and raised in the United States. His mother, an Egyptian Jew, left Cairo in the 1950’s with her family, but as a child had befriended Ahmed al-Raqb, eldest son of the watchman at the Ibn Ezra Synagogue, an inherited position handed down from father to eldest son for over a millennium. A graduate student at Berkeley, news of his father’s death is followed by a small package containing a note, a busin...
  • Rebecca D'Harlingue
    In The Last Watchman of Old Cairo, Lukas masterfully weaves together three time periods, whose stories connect through a family mystery that is traced back a thousand years before the contemporary narrator. Each of the narrative threads is populated by characters who are peculiar to their time, and who fit perfectly within the specific Cairo in which they find themselves.We care about these characters, whose struggles we identify with, no matter ...
  • Annie
    Joseph, like many other literary sons, only really learns who his father is after his death. A few weeks after his father dies, Joseph receives a package with a letter written in an archaic form of Arabic that turns out to document his family’s long history of serving as watchmen for the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Cairo. The Last Watchman of Old Cairo, by Michael David Lukas, moves back and forth in time from the first watchman, to the discovery of ...
  • Jennifer
    I won this book through a Goodreads giveaway. I would actually rate this book closer to a 3.5. I enjoyed how the story covered three different time periods related to interaction with the Ezra scroll. Characters were well developed to the point that you could imagine their behaviors and interactions. Some areas of the story took you down a path that felt important but then were wrapped up quickly and not really resolved. One big positive was the ...
  • Annette
    This book interweaves two present stories of Joseph and two sisters, with one past story of Ali – Joseph’s ancestor.As the story builds up, it is interesting. But as soon as it reaches its peak, it starts falling apart very fast.Joseph is a literature student at Berkley and a son of a Jewish mother and a Muslim father. After the death of his father, he receives a scrap of paper. He doesn’t understand the meaning of the scroll. One day, on a...
  • Julie Barnard
    Unfortunately this doesn’t publish until next year, but it.’s definitely worth adding to your TBR list. Well-written book about Jews and Muslims in Cairo.
  • Lori
    "The Last Watchman of Old Cairo" was a captivating read. It follows a family who are the caretakers for a temple in Cairo!
  • B.T. Mienoré
    This is just a sweet novel, with a Judaica and historical angle that I found compelling enough that I finished this in a day. At the center of the book is the ancient Ibn Ezra synagogue in Cairo, and we get three stories that revolve around this building. First and second, the narrator Joseph traces his family's connections to the synagogue, which stretch over generations back to an ancestor story. Third, we have the story of twin sisters who, wi...
  • Jackie Wisherd
    The book was most enjoyable to read. The author knew his subject well and wrote with great passion. People who enjoy reading about multi-cultural stories will like this book. It is the al-Raqb family history of the men through thousands of years of being the watchmen for the Ibn Ezra Synagogue in Old Cairo.
  • Kathleen Gray
    Three stories in three different time periods weave together to tell a tale that encompasses Judaism, Islam, homophobia, history, and so on. This uses the popular literary device of a legacy- in this case a scroll sent to Joseph. Some of the narrative, and some of the characters were more interesting (and likable) than others. I'm not sure why this didn't resonate with me as it's got all the elements of a good read and it's well written but someh...
  • Laura
    A sweet story, told in three timelines. Joseph is the son of a Muslim father and a Jewish mother from Cairo. Raised by his mother in America, Joseph had an affectionate but distant relationship with his father, who remained in Egypt. One day, after his father’s death, a mysterious package draws Joseph back to Cairo. There he walks the streets of his ancestors and visits the synagogue that his family has served for the last thousand years. I enj...