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WINNER OF: THE ALA’S SOPHIE BRODY AWARD • THE NATIONAL JEWISH BOOK AWARD IN FICTION • THE SAMI ROHR PRIZE FOR JEWISH LITERATURE • PRIX INTERALLIE • Named One of the Ten Best Books of the Year by the BBC • Longlisted for the NCIBA Fiction Prize • A PRH One World, One Book Selection • Honorable Mention for the Middle East Book Award

The Last Watchman of Old Cairo is a tightly-woven multi-generational novel centered around the Ibn Ezra Synagogue in Cairo.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.


“A beautiful, richly textured novel, ambitious and delicately crafted…This book is a joy.”—Rabih Alameddine, author of the National Book Award finalist An Unnecessary Woman


“Lyrical, compassionate and illuminating.”—BBC


“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


“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!”—Historical Novels Review


“Lukas’s writing explodes with imaginative force and splendor.. [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.”—Jerusalem Post


“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.”—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


“Michael David Lukas has given us an elegiac novel of Cairo—Old Cairo and modern Cairo—with a bit of Berkeley thrown in. His prose is deeply evocative…but his 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


“In this evocative novel, Lukas takes readers to Cairo at three different points in its history. Like a contemporary Lawrence Durrell, Lukas turns the Egyptian city into a tantalizingly seductive place of mystery.”—Publishers Weekly


“An appealing family drama…quietly moving…In his exploration of some 10 centuries of Cairo’s history, including times when the city’s Jews and Muslims lived side by side in relative harmony, Lukas at least hints that another era of peaceful coexistence is not beyond imagining.”—Kirkus


“Lukas entrances readers with an account that spans generations…Part mystery, part character study, yet historically accurate, this book should appeal to a broad swatch of readers.”—Library Journal



INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER • TRANSLATED INTO FOURTEEN LANGUAGES • Finalist for: The California Book Award • The NCIBA Book of the Year Award • The Harold U. Ribalow Prize

The Oracle of Stamboul is a historical novel about a preternaturally intelligent little girl who becomes an advisor to the Ottoman sultan and, through her advice to him, changes the course of history. It is the story of an eight year-old orphan who pushes back against the tides of history and changes their direction. Influenced by Charles Dickens, Roald Dahl, Italo Calvino, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, The Oracle of Stamboul is an evocative, magical historical novel that will transport readers to another time and place…romantic, exotic, yet remarkably similar to our own.


“An enchanting, gorgeous read…Lukas captures the scents and sounds, the vivid beauty, the subtle intrigue and simultaneous naivety, of the Ottoman Empire unaware of its imminent demise.” –Siobhan Fallon, author of You Know When the Men are Gone


“A stunning debut…Lukas has managed to create an instant classic that feels as if it should be retroactively slipped into the great libraries of the old world.” –Reif Larsen, author of The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet


“This first novel by a promising young writer is both vivid historical fiction and a haunting fable.” –Library Journal


”The exotic sights and sounds of nineteenth-century Turkey spring vividly to life in Lukas’ promising debut.” –Booklist (starred review)


“A magical debut.” –Good Housekeeping


“Michael David Lukas charms in his debut.” –Vanity Fair


“Beguiling…Lukas veers from the tried-and-true, making The Oracle of Stamboul a novel that offers delightful surprises.” –Jane Ciabattari, Los Angeles Times


“Lukas brings a raconteur’s sense of storytelling, a traveler’s eye for color and a scholar’s sense of history to his first novel. … a Turkish delight.” –San Francisco Chronicle


“A gem of a first novel…an appealing blend of magical and historical realism…a polished literary work that will appeal to a wide readership.” –Cleveland Plain Dealer


“A beautifully written debut…Political intrigue, historical upheaval and Eastern mysticism come together in surprising ways as Lukas brings the book to a poignant conclusion tinged with magical realism.”—Mercury News


“An enchanting literary debut…A charming tale of passion and intrigue…that could be read in one sitting, spine-tingling descriptions will transport readers to another place and time.” –Today’s Zaman



“Bedtime Story,” Indiana Review (pdf)

“Turning 40 and Looking Death in the Eye,” The New York Times

“The Hypocrisy of Hanukkah,” The New York Times
“From Cairo to Kolkata, Traces of a Vibrant Jewish Past,” The New York Times
“Five Books about Building Bridges,” Book Marks
“We Were More than Just Slaves in Egypt,” Forward
“A Novelist’s Poetic License with the Past,” Publishers Weekly
“Of Blessed Memory,” In the Shadows of Memory: The Holocaust and the Third Generation
“When the News and the Novel Collide,” The New York Times
“A Multiplicity of Voices,” The Millions
“Fear and Loving in Cairo,” Wall Street Journal
“Cutting it Close Makes the Trip Worthwhile,” Wall Street Journal
“How Should a Person Be,” San Francisco Chronicle
“The Queen of America,” San Francisco Chronicle
“Home Cooking, Cairo Style,” Gourmet Live
“The Arrogant Years,” San Francisco Chronicle
“Sympathy for the Pharaoh,” Slate
“Lessons from Third Grade,” Publishers Weekly
“The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore,” San Francisco Chronicle
“Workshopping War Literature,” Virginia Quarterly Review
“Notes from No Man’s Land,” Georgia Review
“Friendly Fire,” Virginia Quarterly Review
“Source of Delight,” Afar
“Golems, Novelists, and Other Superheroes,” Tikkun
“How to Win a Cosmic War,” Virginia Quarterly Review
“Destiny Disrupted,” San Francisco Chronicle
“A Skeptic’s Guide to Passover,” Slate
— “Passover Miracles Meet Scientific Explanations,” All Things Considered
“We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land,” San Francisco Chronicle
“Mitzvah Mobile,” Slate
“Al’ America,” San Francisco Chronicle
“Question and Answer Men,” Brown Alumni Magazine
“From A to X,” San Francisco Chronicle
“Finding Nouf,” San Francisco Chronicle
“Mirror of the Arab World,” San Francisco Chronicle
“Two Lives,” San Francisco Chronicle
“The Sweetest Spot in Istanbul,” National Geographic Traveler
“The Uncertain Hour,” San Francisco Chronicle
“Forget the Quran,” Slate
** “Culinary Orientalism,” The New York Times Magazine
“Tortilla Dreams,” Diablo Magazine
“All About the Benjamin,” Tikkun
“Depraved New World,” Washington City Paper
“The Story of George Taylor and Herbert Roe,” Mary
“This American Family,” ReadyMade
“Travels with Jirka; Or, Jews and Beer” Kitchen Sink
“Israel Vibration,” Washington City Paper
“South of the Border,” New York Sun
“The Sound of One Man Eating,” Kitchen Sink
“Tourist Class,” Washington City Paper
“A Short History of Water,” Warrior Magazine
“Eating Istanbul,” New York Sun
“The Commercial Campus,” Providence Phoenix
“My Summer Job,” Brown Alumni Magazine
“My Daddy’s War Story,” In Posse Review
“For True Bookies, a Wealth of Riches,” Boston Globe
“A Writer’s Life,” Brown Alumni Magazine

Book no.1
Book no.2
Book no.3
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