The arrival of a mysterious package sets the son of a Jewish mother and a Muslim father on a journey to Cairo to unravel the shared history that connects the two sides of his family, with characters appearing from medieval Cairo, Victorian England, and contemporary Berkley.
The question of not only who has the right to protect, but also where something, or someone, should live, resurfaces again and again, both in this book and in a larger cultural conversation, as well as questions of intention and culpability ... Though the novel contains elements of a quest — Joseph himself takes off for Cairo soon after receiving the package — there is no final, big reveal. The deep pleasures of this novel come from the interconnecting narratives and how they inform one another: a pulsing energy in the fingertips, or a bleeding hand, or a relationship between cousins, or a love affair ... The Last Watchman of Old Cairo is only one story, centered around one small fragment. But it’s its own very real act of preservation, a fight against erasure, a mingling of history and imagination and mystery.
His sophomore novel...delivers in polyphonic textures a timeless yet contemporary story set in ancient and modern Cairo and Berkeley ... Lukas writes marvelously about Old Cairo, a city he cherishes ... Ultimately, it all loops back to each person being a hero of his or her own story while navigating in worlds we never entirely understand.
...absolutely intriguing ... This is wonderful historical fiction, a novel that entices the reader to truly care about the historical artifacts revered by the characters in its pages. Highly recommended, and a great read!