We are pleased to announce that the 2019 selection for One Book, One Jewish Community is The Last Watchman of Old Cairo by Michael David Lukas.
The Book. At the heart of this novel is Joseph, a literature student at Berkeley who was raised in America by his Jewish mother, and whose Muslim father remained a distant, mysterious figure, living in Egypt until his death. Shortly after his father’s death, Joseph receives an enigmatic package from Egypt…..and from that moment he is pulled into a mesmerizing adventure as he attempts to untangle the history that binds the two sides of his family. For generations, the Muslim men of Joseph’s family served as the watchmen of the legendary Ibn Ezra Synagogue in Old Cairo, protecting the synagogue and the sacred artifacts hidden within. The novel winds its way through the story of Joseph’s family, at the same time recounting the story of the various individuals searching for the legendary scrolls supposedly hidden in the synagogue, including two British twin sisters who travel from Cambridge to Cairo at the end of the 19th century.
The Author. Michael David Lukas is also the author of the international bestseller 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 15 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 works at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at UC Berkeley and lives in Oakland, California.