The Last Watchman of Old Cairo: A Novel
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Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group 2018
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In this "wonderfully rich" (San Francisco Chronicle) novel, a young man journeys from California to Cairo to unravel centuries-old family secrets.WINNER OF THE AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION'S SOPHIE BRODY AWARD • WINNER OF THE NATIONAL JEWISH BOOK AWARD IN FICTION • Named One of the Ten Best Books of the Year by the BBC • Finalist for the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature
  • Longlisted for the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association Fiction Prize
  • A Penguin Random House International One World, One Book Selection 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 the storied Ibn Ezra Synagogue in Old Cairo, built at the site where the infant Moses was taken from the Nile. Joseph learns of his ancestor Ali, a Muslim orphan who nearly a thousand years earlier was entrusted as the first watchman of the synagogue and became enchanted by its legendary—perhaps magical—Ezra Scroll. The story of Joseph's family is entwined with that of the British twin sisters Agnes and Margaret, who in 1897 depart their hallowed Cambridge halls on a mission to rescue sacred texts that have begun to disappear from the synagogue. The Last Watchman of Old Cairo is a moving page-turner of a novel from acclaimed storyteller Michael David Lukas. This tightly woven multigenerational tale illuminates the tensions that have torn communities apart and the unlikely forces—potent magic, forbidden love—that boldly attempt to bridge that divide. 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
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    Format:
    OverDrive MP3 Audiobook, OverDrive Listen
    Edition:
    Unabridged
    Street Date:
    03/13/2018
    Language:
    English
    ISBN:
    9780525528470
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    Date Added:
    Jun 12, 2018 15:52:57
    Date Updated:
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    The Last Watchman of Old Cairo
    fullDescription
    In this "wonderfully rich" (San Francisco Chronicle) novel, a young man journeys from California to Cairo to unravel centuries-old family secrets.
    WINNER OF THE AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION'S SOPHIE BRODY AWARD • WINNER OF THE NATIONAL JEWISH BOOK AWARD IN FICTION • Named One of the Ten Best Books of the Year by the BBC • Finalist for the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature
  • Longlisted for the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association Fiction Prize
  • A Penguin Random House International One World, One Book Selection
    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 the storied Ibn Ezra Synagogue in Old Cairo, built at the site where the infant Moses was taken from the Nile. Joseph learns of his ancestor Ali, a Muslim orphan who nearly a thousand years earlier was entrusted as the first watchman of the synagogue and became enchanted by its legendary—perhaps magical—Ezra Scroll. The story of Joseph's family is entwined with that of the British twin sisters Agnes and Margaret, who in 1897 depart their hallowed Cambridge halls on a mission to rescue sacred texts that have begun to disappear from the synagogue.
    The Last Watchman of Old Cairo is a moving page-turner of a novel from acclaimed storyteller Michael David Lukas. This tightly woven multigenerational tale illuminates the tensions that have torn communities apart and the unlikely forces—potent magic, forbidden love—that boldly attempt to bridge that divide.
    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
  • reviews
        • premium: True
        • source: Publisher's Weekly
        • content:

          February 12, 2018
          In this evocative novel, Lukas takes readers to Cairo at three different points in its history. One thousand years ago, Ali ibn al-Marwani, a Muslim orphan, becomes the night watchman at the Ibn Ezra Synagogue. In 1897, English twin sisters, Agnes Lewis and Margaret Gibson, arrive in Cairo to assist Cambridge scholar Solomon Schechter in acquiring the ancient scrolls held in the synagogue’s storage area. And in the present, Joseph, a Berkeley graduate student who is half-Jewish, half-Muslim, receives a mysterious package from his recently deceased father, which sends him to Cairo to unravel the secret behind the unusual bequest. What binds all three stories is the legendary 2,000-year-old Ezra scroll, purported
          to be the most perfect Torah scroll ever created and supposedly stored at the
          synagogue. Over the centuries, Ali finds that love and duty don’t mix, Agnes and Margaret traverse a bureaucratic labyrinth to arrive at the Jewish Holy of Holies, and Joseph goes from clue to clue to unlock his father’s past and his own future. Like a contemporary Lawrence Durrell, Lukas (The Oracle of Stamboul) turns the Egyptian city into a tantalizingly seductive place of mystery. And although the story is dramatically diffuse, it is redeemed by the author’s vision of
          a more hopeful world where Jews and Muslims come together over a shared cultural heritage. Agent: Nicole Aragi, Aragi Inc.

        • premium: True
        • source: AudioFile Magazine
        • content: The Cairo Genizah is a collection of 300,000 Jewish manuscript fragments that were found in a storeroom (genizah) in Egypt. As Edoardo Ballerini narrates, the story coalesces around three characters: Ali al-Raqb, the first watchman of the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Cairo over a thousand years ago; his current-day descendant, Joseph al-Raqb; and Scottish scholars Agnes S. Lewis, Margaret D. Gibson, and Solomon Schechter, who discovered the scrolls and documents in the Cairo Genizah in 1896. Using soft Arabic and British accents interspersed with a steady uninflected narrative, Ballerini draws listeners into the worlds of ancient and contemporary Egypt. The magic of the Ezra Scroll and the ancient fragments of other documents flows through the story and transcends the generations. Ballerini's performance is as magical as the story itself. M.B.K. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award � AudioFile 2018, Portland, Maine
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    In this spellbinding novel, a young man journeys from California to Cairo to unravel centuries-old family secrets.
    Named One of the Most Anticipated Books of 2018 by The Millions

    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 the storied Ibn Ezra Synagogue in Old Cairo, built at the site where the infant Moses was taken from the Nile. Joseph learns of his ancestor Ali, a Muslim orphan who nearly a thousand years earlier was entrusted as the first watchman of the synagogue and became enchanted by its legendary—perhaps magical—Ezra Scroll. The story of Joseph's family is entwined with that of the British twin sisters Agnes and Margaret, who in 1897 depart their...
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