The Last Watchman of Old Cairo by Michael David Lukas is a story about family stories. One story being told is that of Ali, a Muslim orphan, who in about 1000 AD becomes the first watchman of the Ibn Ezra Synagogue in Cairo, built at the site where the infant Moses was taken from the Nile. Another story being told is of Ali’s descendant who lives in modern time. Joseph is the son of a Jewish mother and a Muslim father. His parents divorced when he was young and he went with his mother eventually settling in America while his father stayed in Egypt. Though he would visit his father when he was older there is much he doesn’t know about his father’s side of his family. Joseph’s father has recently died and he receives a package from a friend of his father’s which intrigues him because he does not understand what it is and why it was sent to him. Joseph goes to Egypt to obtain more information about this package. In Egypt he learns more about his father and his family. The last story being told is of twin older British women scholars in Egypt in the late 1800’s seeking to transport historical Jewish documents to Cambridge. These three stories are woven together in a way that shows how each generation builds on the one that came before it.
This is a slow moving story that shows that mercy is more powerful than justice. Forgiveness is greater than revenge. I also really loved learning about Egypt history between Muslims and Jews.
If you enjoy books about families, distant times and places, a little mystery and a little magic I think you will enjoy this book.
My copy of The Last Watchman of Old Cairo was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!