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Cairo: A Graphic Novel

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A stolen hookah, a spiritual underworld, and a genie on the run change the lives of five strangers forever in this modern fable set on the streets of the Middle East's largest metropolis. CAIRO interweaves the fates of a drug runner, a down-on-his-luck journalist, an American expatriate, a troubled young student, and an Israeli soldier as they race through bustling present- A stolen hookah, a spiritual underworld, and a genie on the run change the lives of five strangers forever in this modern fable set on the streets of the Middle East's largest metropolis. CAIRO interweaves the fates of a drug runner, a down-on-his-luck journalist, an American expatriate, a troubled young student, and an Israeli soldier as they race through bustling present-day Cairo to find an artifact of unimaginable power, one protected by a dignified jinn and sought by a wrathful gangster-magician. But the vastness of Africa's legendary City of Victory extends into a spiritual realm—the Undernile—and even darker powers lurk there... Written by journalist G. Willow Wilson (Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine, Cairo Magazine) and drawn by award-winning illustrator M.K. Perker (The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal), this magical-realist thriller brings together the ancient and modern Middle East. "Chock full of brilliant ideas drawn from the mythology and legends of the Middle East, deftly reinterpreted and modernized by Wilson's agile and whimsical mind and Perker's impressive craft." - Bill Willingham, creator and writer of FABLES


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A stolen hookah, a spiritual underworld, and a genie on the run change the lives of five strangers forever in this modern fable set on the streets of the Middle East's largest metropolis. CAIRO interweaves the fates of a drug runner, a down-on-his-luck journalist, an American expatriate, a troubled young student, and an Israeli soldier as they race through bustling present- A stolen hookah, a spiritual underworld, and a genie on the run change the lives of five strangers forever in this modern fable set on the streets of the Middle East's largest metropolis. CAIRO interweaves the fates of a drug runner, a down-on-his-luck journalist, an American expatriate, a troubled young student, and an Israeli soldier as they race through bustling present-day Cairo to find an artifact of unimaginable power, one protected by a dignified jinn and sought by a wrathful gangster-magician. But the vastness of Africa's legendary City of Victory extends into a spiritual realm—the Undernile—and even darker powers lurk there... Written by journalist G. Willow Wilson (Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine, Cairo Magazine) and drawn by award-winning illustrator M.K. Perker (The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal), this magical-realist thriller brings together the ancient and modern Middle East. "Chock full of brilliant ideas drawn from the mythology and legends of the Middle East, deftly reinterpreted and modernized by Wilson's agile and whimsical mind and Perker's impressive craft." - Bill Willingham, creator and writer of FABLES

30 review for Cairo: A Graphic Novel

  1. 5 out of 5

    Heidi The Reader

    Cairo is an urban fantasy set against the backdrop of the desert city of the same name. It has magical creatures, confused young men, drug dealers, magicians, Israeli soldiers and more. Everyone in this story is looking for something. If it's not a magical hookah, it is a search for love, truth, their higher self or more power. I suppose the entire story could be used as a reminder that "wherever you go, there you are". "I wanted to do something. Get away from self-obsessed first world crap. I fel Cairo is an urban fantasy set against the backdrop of the desert city of the same name. It has magical creatures, confused young men, drug dealers, magicians, Israeli soldiers and more. Everyone in this story is looking for something. If it's not a magical hookah, it is a search for love, truth, their higher self or more power. I suppose the entire story could be used as a reminder that "wherever you go, there you are". "I wanted to do something. Get away from self-obsessed first world crap. I felt like the monoculture was suffocating me. I didn't want to get stuck where I was. You know that feeling?" "I know it. But I do not think you'll find what you are looking for in Cairo." "Why's that?" "Because a lot of us are stuck here." I was drawn to this graphic novel because of the teasers that promised mythology mixed with fantasy. It does contain that, but everything felt so rushed. Readers didn't get the context of any of it. We're just thrust into a world that doesn't make much sense and spend much of the story grasping at straws of understanding. In a way, it is much like real life. However, I prefer my graphic novels to be more of an exercise in escapism than a mirror for real life. Give me layered worlds, complex story lines, nuanced characters and deep-seated meaning. I felt Cairo reaching for those things, but not quite getting there. We do have quite a number of main characters, which, by its nature, makes the story more complex. But, in this case, I felt that more was not better because all of the characters felt so one-note. The exception to this classification was Shams, the jinn. We get glimpses into his millennias-long life, relationships to other storied characters, guardianship of a sacred object and spiritual leanings. Even then, I wanted more. "Welcome to your new home, oh jinn. We'll talk again when you are more reasonable. Take all the time you need." The illustrations are done in black and white, and feel rather gritty. I imagine the whole thing could have taken on a completely different character with a couple good punches of color. My favorite part was when one of the main characters reaches for a hero's sword in a test of faith. G. Willow Wilson, the author, uses a poem by Hafiz to put words in the hero's mouth as he strives to touch another reality and lay claim to the magical blade. "The place where I am right now... was circled on a map for me." Though the translation Wilson used varies from the version I am familiar with, which reads: "This place where you are now, God circled on a map for you." Still, it is a beautiful sentiment. Rather like the intention, if not execution, of this graphic novel.

  2. 5 out of 5

    notyourmonkey

    This. This. This is what graphic novels are for. Augh. I want to read more stuff like this immediately. A hashish dealer, a wannabe revolutionary journalist, an Israeli soldier, a wannabe suicide bomber, and a wannabe something/anything from the O.C. get drawn into a conflict between a gangster and a djinn in, you guessed it, Cairo. There's interesting, nuanced things said about politics, about religion, about history, about class, about gender (sorta), about, well, everything you think should p This. This. This is what graphic novels are for. Augh. I want to read more stuff like this immediately. A hashish dealer, a wannabe revolutionary journalist, an Israeli soldier, a wannabe suicide bomber, and a wannabe something/anything from the O.C. get drawn into a conflict between a gangster and a djinn in, you guessed it, Cairo. There's interesting, nuanced things said about politics, about religion, about history, about class, about gender (sorta), about, well, everything you think should probably be talked about when you've got a dealer, a journalist, a soldier, an extremist, and a college girl running through the streets of Cairo and the Undernile. Oh, and then there are some gunfights and some mystical battles and evil and good and, really, the djinn is totally badass. The one problem is that this is not a very long book, so even though there's nuance, that nuance can only be briefly touched upon and still get everyone to the gunfight on time. Recommended. Also - there isn't a single. white. male. in a speaking role in the entire. thing. Dude.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sud666

    This was an interesting story. Rather fun. But most importantly- it is a unique and original story. I respect that. It's the story of an Egyptian drug dealer, a depressed Egyptian journalist, a troubled young Lebanese-American student, an American girl from California, a female Israeli soldier and a Jinn trapped in a hookah are part of this motley cast of characters that all converge on the city of Cairo. This is an interesting tale. I enjoyed the intersection of events and the whole Islamic take This was an interesting story. Rather fun. But most importantly- it is a unique and original story. I respect that. It's the story of an Egyptian drug dealer, a depressed Egyptian journalist, a troubled young Lebanese-American student, an American girl from California, a female Israeli soldier and a Jinn trapped in a hookah are part of this motley cast of characters that all converge on the city of Cairo. This is an interesting tale. I enjoyed the intersection of events and the whole Islamic take on the Devil and Jinn. It's part detective story and part action story in the Arabic style (think Ali Baba or Sinbad). There is a lot of humor and some interesting things to think about (yes they are all liberal viewpoints-but what did you expect? It's ok..still a good story). The artwork is decent, but works for this story. The Jinn steals the show as the hands-down best character. Also kudos to the positive vision of Islam proposed by the Jinn and the journalist. Great point about why suicide bombing is NOT what is meant by "submission" in the Koran. I applaud any attempt to show how "modern" Islam (is any religion modern? really? especially Islamic in the Middle East. Sorry..but true) has much in common with Christianity in the underlying precepts of good and evil. Well done over all. An exciting and action oriented read. The religious aspects are not overdone-but rather show it in a positive light and as modern as a religion can be. The underlying Islamic/Arabic mythology is well done. The setting of Cairo is also inspired. Nice to have a cool story somewhere other than NYC. Art? It's ok. But it does work with this story and I never minded it. I found most of the characters to be silly liberal gits. But that's ok too. It's not my story...I didn't write it. I just read it. So the author is welcome to whatever silly trite beliefs they want to espouse or hold. I like the story for what it is- entertaining, original, and unique-that counts for a lot in my book. I am glad I read this one. You should too.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Skip

    A cool graphic novel involving an unlikely cast of characters: an Israeli soldier, an Egyptian hash smuggler, a couple of American students, one of whom is a wannabe suicide bomber of Lebanese descent, a wannabe revolutionary journalist, and a jinn brought together by the rather unlikely circumstance of the theft of a hookah in which it just so happens the jinn is imprisoned. This framework allows the story to explore the politics of the Middle East, the age-old theme of good versus evil, and th A cool graphic novel involving an unlikely cast of characters: an Israeli soldier, an Egyptian hash smuggler, a couple of American students, one of whom is a wannabe suicide bomber of Lebanese descent, a wannabe revolutionary journalist, and a jinn brought together by the rather unlikely circumstance of the theft of a hookah in which it just so happens the jinn is imprisoned. This framework allows the story to explore the politics of the Middle East, the age-old theme of good versus evil, and the more mystical elements of the cultures there. However, because this is not a very long book, some of the themes are not sufficiently developed.

  5. 4 out of 5

    ♡︎Bee♡︎

    THIS WAS SO GOOD OMG. It had the just the right amount of humor, action, depth, plot, and fantasy ! All the important characters were absolutely lovable and the pace of the story was really good as well. This is the second graphic novel of G. Willow Wilson's alongside Ms. Marvel that I have read and I must say she does know how to spin a good story. All in all, i really enjoyed this and i recommend this to anyone looking for a light and fun read . THIS WAS SO GOOD OMG. It had the just the right amount of humor, action, depth, plot, and fantasy ! All the important characters were absolutely lovable and the pace of the story was really good as well. This is the second graphic novel of G. Willow Wilson's alongside Ms. Marvel that I have read and I must say she does know how to spin a good story. All in all, i really enjoyed this and i recommend this to anyone looking for a light and fun read .

  6. 5 out of 5

    Skye Kilaen

    Set in modern Egypt, with all its political tensions and a heavy dose of the mythological. It brings together a reform-minded Egyptian journalist, his friend and maybe future brother-in-law who's a drug runner, an Israeli soldier who needs to get back home, an idealistic but ignorant American wannabe reporter, a Lebanese-American teenager who's headed down a path of violence, and a jinn. Threats from a sorcerer set these six characters on a race through Cairo and its spiritual counterpart, the U Set in modern Egypt, with all its political tensions and a heavy dose of the mythological. It brings together a reform-minded Egyptian journalist, his friend and maybe future brother-in-law who's a drug runner, an Israeli soldier who needs to get back home, an idealistic but ignorant American wannabe reporter, a Lebanese-American teenager who's headed down a path of violence, and a jinn. Threats from a sorcerer set these six characters on a race through Cairo and its spiritual counterpart, the Undernile. All of the chasing and fighting and demons and occasional shooting and whatnot is appropriately tense and dramatic, but the real heart of the book is how each character grows. It's a response to "how do we fix the world?" that doesn't rely on easy answers, but instead on human hearts and hard work. Well told, well illustrated, and very much needed. Diversity note: G. Willow Wilson is Muslim. M.K. Perker is Turkish.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Stewart Tame

    This was over the top, but in a fun way. The cast is fairly sizeable. There's Ashraf, an admitted smuggler, but charming in that loveable rogue sort of way. He’s very protective of his sister, Salma, a dancer. She's in love with Ali, a reporter who keeps running afoul of the censors. There's also Kate, an American woman in search of a change of pace from Orange County. On the plane to Cairo she meets Shaheed, a Lebanese American on his way to Beirut to visit family. And there's Tova, from Israel This was over the top, but in a fun way. The cast is fairly sizeable. There's Ashraf, an admitted smuggler, but charming in that loveable rogue sort of way. He’s very protective of his sister, Salma, a dancer. She's in love with Ali, a reporter who keeps running afoul of the censors. There's also Kate, an American woman in search of a change of pace from Orange County. On the plane to Cairo she meets Shaheed, a Lebanese American on his way to Beirut to visit family. And there's Tova, from Israeli Special Forces who wound up in Egypt by mistake. And then there's Shams, the jinn … It's probably not surprising that at least one of these people is not who they appear to be. This is very much in the caper/screwball comedy mode. Everyone is just a touch on the colorful side, the dialogue sparkles, and the plot has plenty of twists and turns. There's a real sense of place to this graphic novel, and I found it quite refreshing to read fantasy derived from Middle Eastern lore rather than European. It makes for a nice change of pace. The artwork is subtly on the goofy side, which suits the material well. Recommended!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Liz Janet

    We have quite a fun story, in present-day Cairo, while not all characters are precisely from there. We have a drug runner, an Israeli soldier, a journalist, an American expatriate, and a student, as they try to find a hookah where a jinni lives. Many categorize the book as magical realism, most likely due to the acceptance of jinni in the middle of Cairo, and it makes the story seem so much more adequate for the place it is set in. It is a story, not just about the characters and what they endur We have quite a fun story, in present-day Cairo, while not all characters are precisely from there. We have a drug runner, an Israeli soldier, a journalist, an American expatriate, and a student, as they try to find a hookah where a jinni lives. Many categorize the book as magical realism, most likely due to the acceptance of jinni in the middle of Cairo, and it makes the story seem so much more adequate for the place it is set in. It is a story, not just about the characters and what they endure, but also about the city itself. The city helps them discover who they are. This graphic novel introduced me to G. Willow Wilson, and I am thankful, so please read this.

  9. 5 out of 5

    new_user

    As a brief crash course into the thoughts and feelings of Egyptians, Americans, and Israelis, Cairo certainly goes a long ways. Though the book is too short to develop these characters fully or delve in depth into these themes (e.g. Egyptian govt. and journalism, Israel, suicide bombings, feelings toward Americans, and Orientalism), the novel is a good introduction to a more genuine look at the region that encourages Middle-Easterners to speak about the reality and for others to listen with huma As a brief crash course into the thoughts and feelings of Egyptians, Americans, and Israelis, Cairo certainly goes a long ways. Though the book is too short to develop these characters fully or delve in depth into these themes (e.g. Egyptian govt. and journalism, Israel, suicide bombings, feelings toward Americans, and Orientalism), the novel is a good introduction to a more genuine look at the region that encourages Middle-Easterners to speak about the reality and for others to listen with humanity. The novel accomplishes this with a 165-page romp heavily laced with Arabian Nights adventure, and while each character is interesting and different and faces his or her own dilemmas, even romances, the book length naturally limits the narrative from exploring these too deeply. The characters are more important as mouthpieces for the respective perspectives that they represent. I particularly liked the Arabic expressions scattered throughout. They lend the novel authenticity, as well as the subtle peppering of hints of Egyptian life. As someone else mentioned, I can definitely see influences of film in the book, particularly the dissolves from scene to scene. On a side note, I also liked Willow's nod to Spiders-Man, LOL. (Misspelling intended.) The art leans towards realistic, precise and detailed. So readers who enjoy art along the lines of Fables with a few exaggerated crooks should enjoy this complete, black and white volume. I wasn't expecting much, particularly from a DC publication, but now I'm glad I read Cairo. I would recommend this even to people who have some knowledge of the social concerns in the region because an insider's view of these issues is rare. This is authored by an American commited to living in the region-- not an expatriot, a visitor or armchair journalist. Keeping in mind that these issues must be simplified to fit into such a short frame, still I think they expose readers to more than they will likely have seen or give readers food for thought.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Anna Avian

    An enjoyable quick read.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    "So today, I hit one of those stoned camels with my truck." So beings Ashraf's story to his mother, sitting by her grave with a cigarette in one hand and a hookah by his side. Ashraf is a drug dealer, running hashish into Israel, and hitting that camel nearly gets him killed by border guards. That's just the beginning of his wild and wonderful tale. Leaving the cemetery, he heads for a cafe where his good friend Ali is having tea with Ashraf's sister, Salma. While a young female Israeli soldier "So today, I hit one of those stoned camels with my truck." So beings Ashraf's story to his mother, sitting by her grave with a cigarette in one hand and a hookah by his side. Ashraf is a drug dealer, running hashish into Israel, and hitting that camel nearly gets him killed by border guards. That's just the beginning of his wild and wonderful tale. Leaving the cemetery, he heads for a cafe where his good friend Ali is having tea with Ashraf's sister, Salma. While a young female Israeli soldier gets a ride with the Bedouin and their "stoned camels" into Cairo, a Lebanese-American called Shaheed (meaning "martyr") with possible suicide-bombing plans arrives on a plane along with another American, an idealistic student called Kate who came to Cairo mostly to escape Orange County. She wanders into the cafe asking for directions to her hotel, and there she meets Ali and Salma. Ali offers to take her to her hotel, but as they head down the street they are taken hostage, all because of Ashraf and the hookah. Ashraf, meanwhile, is looking for a dumb tourist to sell the hookah to, and encounters Shaheed, who willingly buys it. Inside the hookah, unbeknownst to Ashraf, is a jinn called Shams, a tall elegant-looking man who manipulates probabilities in order to "grant wishes". He was trapped inside the hookah by Nar, an evil sorcerer who is looking for a box that contains a word of power, which Shams is determined to get to first and give to Shaheed. Nar's goons have taken Ashraf's friend - and Kate - hostage until he brings back the hookah, which means Ashraf must find Shaheed. Things for Ashraf are further complicated by Tova, the Special Forces soldier from Israel who asks Ashraf, at gunpoint, to get her back into Israel using his drug running route. And so the race, the confluence of choices, begins. Cairo is an energetic, adventurous, fun, quick story that you can devour in a couple of hours - in fact, it shuttles along at a quick pace like a movie, flowing from one scene to another in much the same way. It perfectly balances a modern, colourful city with cultural and political tensions and ancient Egyptian myths to create a magical adventure story complete with gun fights, djinni, flying carpets, the devil, crises of conscience and coming-of-age stories for the two youngest, Shaheed and Kate. The five main (human) characters, Ashraf, Tavo, Ali, Kate and Shaheed, are each introduced in such a way that you get a good idea of their characters from the start, Perker's clever illustrations capturing body language and nuances that complement the dialogue. Their intro scenes bleed one into another, so that it's very easy to flow with the story. The pacing is swift, but not always busy, giving you time to catch up. That said, there were a few times the plot went a bit too fast for me, especially in regards to Nar and the mysterious box. Or rather, the box containing the mysterious word. I'm not entirely sure I followed all that, and while I did get the full impression of Nar as a bad man with strong magical powers and a cunning mind, I knew nothing of him beyond those details. He wasn't fleshed out at all, which left him as a bit of a caricature of a character. On the other hand, Shams was also left mysterious, but in his case this added depth to his character, not left him flat. He's a jinn, after all. There are times when you see his vulnerability, his hopes, his sadness. He and Ashraf were my favourite characters; Ashraf may have been a bit of a cliche, but he was still hugely fun and could often steal a scene. He was also the comic relief, and like any good action movie, there's always a need for a few laughs. There are some moments of moralising, not preaching but the characters coming to realise things about themselves and the world. It was handled well, not belaboured, sometimes not even stated but shown. During an unexpected trip to the Undernile, where the devil whispers to them, Kate and Ali have a great argument where their prejudices and arrogance come out. Shaheed has a mystical transformation which I didn't fully grasp, since it all hinges on the word in the box. And Ali has a renewed enthusiasm in getting the news out to Cairo, no matter how much the censors remove first. If you're looking for a well-written, wonderfully-illustrated graphic novel that reads like an action movie but with more depth, and tells a story you haven't really heard before, definitely pick up a copy of Cairo.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Maas

    Egyptians, Americans and an Israeli all join forces to fight the underworld Great tale from G. Willow Wilson, great art from M.K. Perker. The Middle East might have a few problems nowadays, but the characters come together to fight creatures from the Undernile. I recommend it! Egyptians, Americans and an Israeli all join forces to fight the underworld Great tale from G. Willow Wilson, great art from M.K. Perker. The Middle East might have a few problems nowadays, but the characters come together to fight creatures from the Undernile. I recommend it!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Review from Badelynge. Cairo begins with a hashish smuggler called Ashraf sitting at his mother's grave as he relates to her how his day went. "So today I hit one of those stoned camels with my truck." He tells her the Bedouin have fields of marijuana out in Sinai. The camels graze on the stuff. He tells her about the Israeli border guards who nearly catch him smuggling hash hidden inside bulbs of Smelly Beet. He tells her not to worry, that's just life in the City Victorious. It's a deft and assur Review from Badelynge. Cairo begins with a hashish smuggler called Ashraf sitting at his mother's grave as he relates to her how his day went. "So today I hit one of those stoned camels with my truck." He tells her the Bedouin have fields of marijuana out in Sinai. The camels graze on the stuff. He tells her about the Israeli border guards who nearly catch him smuggling hash hidden inside bulbs of Smelly Beet. He tells her not to worry, that's just life in the City Victorious. It's a deft and assured way to start the story off, introduce a major character and set the tone. The other pieces of the mosaic follow on soon after: A female Israeli special forces soldier, injured and rescued ironically by the very Bedouin that Ashraf curses for not securing their camels; in the sky above is a passenger jet with two Americans on board, one of Lebanese extraction called Shaheed with an idea to live up to his name, the other a naive girl trying to broaden her Orange County boundaries; dating Ashraf's sister is a journalist/activist who amusingly knows more about Peter Parker and Spiders Man (that wasn't a typo) than some Americans; and Shams who lives in a hookah. The cover blurb cites the book as belonging to a genre called magical realist, which I've never heard of before but suits the book. Primarily it's a book set in a Cairo, before the people's revolution, but not an overtly fictionalised Cairo or one seen filtered through western preconceptions. Sure it's full of magic and mysticism with a plot about a magician gangster trying to recover a powerful artifact guarded by a Jinn but it's all authentic Egyptian mythology and the writer G. Willow Wilson, though American, is heavily committed to Cairo and its people, having lived there for many years to this day and formerly a regular contributor to the now defunct Cairo Magazine. I loved all the idiomatic Arabic expressions, though I suspect in respect to the colourful cursing, the translation into our woefully inadequate English doesn't quite do it justice. The art is excellent too. Turkish artist M.K. Perker delivers some extremely expressive and detailed shaded black and white pencils, bringing the characters and locations to life. It all ends a little too soon and if the concluding tone is one of hope and perhaps wishful thinking, in the land of the Jinn anything is possible.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth A

    Book blurb: A stolen hookah, a spiritual underworld, and a genie on the run change the lives of five strangers forever in this modern fable set on the streets of the Middle East's largest metropolis. If that does not suck you in, how about the first line: "So, today I hit one of those stoned camels with my truck." Move over Dickens. This might just be the best first line ever. This graphic novel is beautifully illustrated, has a really good story, and has some of the most creative curses I've ever Book blurb: A stolen hookah, a spiritual underworld, and a genie on the run change the lives of five strangers forever in this modern fable set on the streets of the Middle East's largest metropolis. If that does not suck you in, how about the first line: "So, today I hit one of those stoned camels with my truck." Move over Dickens. This might just be the best first line ever. This graphic novel is beautifully illustrated, has a really good story, and has some of the most creative curses I've ever read - I kept repeating them out loud while reading. Politics, mythology, human drama, philosophy, with some romance thrown in for good measure, this wonderful story is set in a part of the world we often only hear about on the evening news. I loved everything about it, and GWW is quickly becoming my fave woman graphic novel author.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dov Zeller

    This is a fun, interesting romp through a city that is so accustomed to chaos, gangsters, murder and magic, none of the above seem to fluster anyone inside of the world of "Cairo" for more than a moment. This is action packed with an interesting, diverse cast of characters, but they all can seem a bit overly symbolic and caricaturist and the novel feel a bit more like a lecture at times than a story. Still, the art is great, the story is good, the premise is fairly engaging. I also have Ms. Marve This is a fun, interesting romp through a city that is so accustomed to chaos, gangsters, murder and magic, none of the above seem to fluster anyone inside of the world of "Cairo" for more than a moment. This is action packed with an interesting, diverse cast of characters, but they all can seem a bit overly symbolic and caricaturist and the novel feel a bit more like a lecture at times than a story. Still, the art is great, the story is good, the premise is fairly engaging. I also have Ms. Marvel with Wilson as illustrator I think (though I am not sure if she does the writing in that one). Looking forward to picking it up this weekend.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Anushree

    Disclaimer - I enjoyed it a lot but it might not exactly reflect in my write-up because I am bone tired. But I recommend it very seriously. ---- "I think there aren't any sacrifices. There are only choices. I think if you give something up for someone, it won't feel like a sacrifice. It'll feel like the right thing to do." ~ Shahid, Cairo, G. Willow Wilson ---- Ashraf, a hash smuggler, has been having a bad day. And it is probably going to get worse now. He has stolen a hookah from Nar who is an evil Disclaimer - I enjoyed it a lot but it might not exactly reflect in my write-up because I am bone tired. But I recommend it very seriously. ---- "I think there aren't any sacrifices. There are only choices. I think if you give something up for someone, it won't feel like a sacrifice. It'll feel like the right thing to do." ~ Shahid, Cairo, G. Willow Wilson ---- Ashraf, a hash smuggler, has been having a bad day. And it is probably going to get worse now. He has stolen a hookah from Nar who is an evil crime-lord and a magician. The hookah is not an ordinary one. It contains magic and tremendous power, which is why Nar wants it so desperately and he can go to any lengths to get it back. What is this power and what kind of magic does it contain and whether Nar finally gets it forms the rest of the story of this thriller sprinkled with magical realism! Set in contemporary Cairo, the story revolves around six characters - Ashraf, who was introduced earlier; Tova, an Israeli soldier; Jibreel Ali, a rabblerousing journalist; Kate, an expat, a lost American and an aspiring journalist; Shaheed, a Lebanese-American, mostly a confused kid & Shams - a Jinn who is the protector of the power in question. Throughout the story we get to read references to a couple of legends and myths and a few demons make appearance as well. The story also features the legend of Under-Nile, a river that is said to be running deep down the Nile, in the opposite direction. In many places, the story is writ with wry humor and a sort of commentary on the social situation of the city. The art by M. K. Perker is enchanting and evokes riotous imagery despite being black and white. For eg. There is an illustration of the Under-Nile that is so beautifully done that the scene seems as if it is really around you. I have posted a few more pictures so you get the drift. I am going to make a special mention of the way the female characters of the novel are written. Like a breath of fresh air. They don't fall into the stereotypes and make sure they demand their space in the story without being overridden by the narratives of their male counterparts. You see shades of Wilson's own life here and there in one of the female characters who is an expat. Wilson herself is a convert and her journey towards Islam started with a lot of apprehension. The apprehension is clearly visible in how Kate handles herself. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and I am so glad Sarath hounded me to read it. It takes hardly an hour or so to finish the novel, and every page is worth it. The end is surreal as is wont to any magical realism and hence it can also make for a great discussion. A story that can be re-read and enjoyed multiple times for sure. ----

  17. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    What do you get when you mix a hash smuggler, a lost Israeli soldier, a Cairene journalist, a Lebanese-American with secrets, an idealistic California Girl, and a jinn? A bananas graphic novel about choice and sacrifice. I was a little worried going in that I wouldn’t like it because I like Ms Marvel too much, but this has the same quippy, dry humor only more violence and magic. Good art, but I wish it had been in color. Picked this up during GWW’s signing when she was in town this year.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    Two American teenagers meet on a plane ride into Cairo and end up getting mixed up in an adventure with magical hookahs, a djinni, a drug smuggler, a journalist, and an evil mastermind. I have always loved the mystical fairy-tale elements of the Arab world, and this has all of that combined with a real modern focus. The author addresses the ever-present tension between the Hebrew and Arab communities, modern-day terrorism, hard-core journalism, etc. At it's heart, though, the story is a look at Two American teenagers meet on a plane ride into Cairo and end up getting mixed up in an adventure with magical hookahs, a djinni, a drug smuggler, a journalist, and an evil mastermind. I have always loved the mystical fairy-tale elements of the Arab world, and this has all of that combined with a real modern focus. The author addresses the ever-present tension between the Hebrew and Arab communities, modern-day terrorism, hard-core journalism, etc. At it's heart, though, the story is a look at similarities between people and cultures, even when we try our hardest not to see those similarities. The fairy-tale parts just make it even more fun to read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Melle

    This was so, so good! Epic struggles between good and evil, love and fear, chance and choice. Great storytelling and rich, complex, memorable characters. Also, finding the commonalities and universalities in humanity and in religions/cultures/worldviews while being sympathetic and humanizing to all. Sigh! The perfect book to nudge me out of my reading slump!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tamora Pierce

    A stunning graphic novel with real, wonderfully human characters, miniature portraits of people whose lives intersect in the back alleys of Cairo.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tanvir Muntasim

    Willow Wilson, who will go on to create the first Muslim super hero in the Marvel comics universe and win World Fantasy Award for a novel, made her graphic novel debut with this entertaining fantasy adventure. With a deft mix of ancient Middle Eastern mythologies and some commentary on the modern day conflict, she has created something tastefully steeped in the Arab culture, while mostly steering away from the Orientalist pitfalls. Great fun and a quick read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Amber

    My second G Willow Wilson/M.K. Perker this year. I hadn't realized this was Wilson's first graphic novel. Her dialogue is so lively and moving and often VERY funny. It's incredible how quickly I became invested in the cast of characters and how believably they were portrayed in all their diversity. Perker's black and white art captures the frenzied urban action, seamlessly incorporating the supernatural locales. My second G Willow Wilson/M.K. Perker this year. I hadn't realized this was Wilson's first graphic novel. Her dialogue is so lively and moving and often VERY funny. It's incredible how quickly I became invested in the cast of characters and how believably they were portrayed in all their diversity. Perker's black and white art captures the frenzied urban action, seamlessly incorporating the supernatural locales.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Donald Armfield

    Damn black & white comics. Although this one I enjoyed. Learned a few things in my hunt for research of The Jinn.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Iman

    This was an amazing book that had a deeper meaning.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Katie Florida

    Wow. That was fantastic.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Zana

    GO AWAY! This is really good - I am still recovering and digesting a lot of things but I'm glad I picked this up today. SO SO GOOD GO AWAY! This is really good - I am still recovering and digesting a lot of things but I'm glad I picked this up today. SO SO GOOD

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nezka

    Engrossing tale, a late night read I couldn't put down. Engrossing tale, a late night read I couldn't put down.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    Five strangers become unlikely allies in the streets of modern Cairo when a gangster attempts to recover a stolen hookah, which has become the eternal home of a jinn. Interwoven with Arabic folklore and magic, it’s a beautiful and fast-paced story told by G. Willow Wilson (Ms Marvel) and brought to life with artistic perfection by M.K. Perker.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    Cairo is written, in many ways, as a loving tribute to the eponymous city itself. Set in the Egyptian capital, the book follows a group of characters from a myriad of nationalities and social backgrounds—including an Israeli soldier, an Egyptian journalist, a drug-runner, a suicide bomber, and an American student—brought together by the rather unlikely circumstance of the theft of a hookah in which it just so happens a "genie" is imprisoned. This framework allows the story to explore the politic Cairo is written, in many ways, as a loving tribute to the eponymous city itself. Set in the Egyptian capital, the book follows a group of characters from a myriad of nationalities and social backgrounds—including an Israeli soldier, an Egyptian journalist, a drug-runner, a suicide bomber, and an American student—brought together by the rather unlikely circumstance of the theft of a hookah in which it just so happens a "genie" is imprisoned. This framework allows the story to explore the politics of the Middle East, while also exploring the more mystical elements of the culture there. It is a rather ambitious goal this book's creators undertook, especially considering they are both relatively inexperienced with the medium. Writer G. Willow Wilson and artist M.K. Perker have worked in their respective fields for many years—Wilson as an essayist for esteemed magazines such as Atlantic Monthly, New York Times Magazine, and the defunct Egypt-based Cairo Magazine, and Perker as an illustrator for publications ranging from The New Yorker to MAD Magazine—but this book marks Wilson's first foray into comics while most of Perker's experience is as a cartoonist and not a sequential artist. Frankly it shows, as both creators are clearly unaccustomed to the format of comics and fall back on the skills of their day jobs a bit too often. It's obvious that the writer is a journalist by trade, which works to both the book's benefit and its detriment. Wilson's approach to the story is to mix the fantasy aspects with a real-world sensibility towards the modern-day issues facing the region. These disparate elements are not mixed perfectly, and the social awareness of the story occasionally can come across as a bit heavy-handed, especially in one bit in which an Egyptian journalist and a young American girl argue politics while spurred on by an evil jinn. But for the most part these two sides to the story do fit together well, and Wilson uses the fanciful trappings of the plot to grab our attention while she delivers her message to us. What makes Wilson's background as a journalist most clear, however, is not in the subject matter but in how the story is told. The book is at times overly verbose, relying too much on the words to tell the story and not fully utilizing the art as a storytelling tool. The characters are incredibly talkative, and sometimes it is transparent that their dialogue is being used either for exposition or as an authorial soapbox. Thus, the conversations between characters can be quite clunky, and the word balloons occasionally crowd out the images. The artist's style too can seem a bit ill-suited for comics. Perker clearly has great talent as an illustrator, having worked for a number of well-regarded publications over the past two decades, such skills do not always translate well into good comic art. The faces and postures of the characters are very expressive; Perker is clearly skilled at creating real emotional resonance in the characters he draws. Some of the fantasy sequences involving demons trawling through catacombs are quite visually arresting as well. The composition of certain panels is occasionally awkward, however, and the blocking of some scenes can be rather bland and uninteresting. In many of the images we only see half of a character's face, either in profile or because it extends off-panel, or characters have their backs to the "camera." These assets and these flaws add up to a finished product that is very much a mixed bag. It has interesting story elements that aren't always handled well and characters that seem like clichés in one scene and very real in the next. The art similarly seems to lack polish on some pages while in others it is incredibly skillful. It is difficult then to recommend Cairo in its present form, as a $25 hardcover, even though it was enjoyable enough to read in the end. Perhaps though once the book is in paperback form, and a bit less expensive, it might be worth a look.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    We have an international program at the college where I work, and the person in charge of the program has been ordering graphic novels set in foreign countries, like Persepolis, in an effort to make it easier for students to learn about foreign cultures. When I saw this title, and saw that it was published by Vertigo and featured, among other things, a flying prayer carpet (no kidding), I figured he must have ordered this one by mistake. Since I like Vertigo, and hadn’t read a graphic novel in a We have an international program at the college where I work, and the person in charge of the program has been ordering graphic novels set in foreign countries, like Persepolis, in an effort to make it easier for students to learn about foreign cultures. When I saw this title, and saw that it was published by Vertigo and featured, among other things, a flying prayer carpet (no kidding), I figured he must have ordered this one by mistake. Since I like Vertigo, and hadn’t read a graphic novel in a while, I gave it a shot. It turns out that the graphic novel, while steeped with middle Eastern mythology and supernatural events, still had a lot to say about the culture of its setting. Thinking back on the story, I’m a little amazed at what the author did manage to include in this work of fiction. Aside from the supernatural elements of the story, the author also touched on serious subjects, such as the conflicts that exist between neighboring regions, the poverty that touches the population, and the governmental policies that drive the rebels. Granted, the story only touches on these subjects — for the most part, the story is about a stolen hookah that is the home of a djinn — but it’s interesting to see them mentioned in an otherwise throw-away story. Story-wise, the graphic novel isn’t anything spectacular. The stolen hookah I mentioned is the property of a drug-running magician/gangster who wants it back, and the people involved in the story are a journalist, an American, an activist, and a soldier. Their journey takes them to many places, both real and supernatural, but the setting of the story is what makes it stand out, overall. Anyone who reads much of the Vertigo line would probably like this story, but do realize ahead of time that it’s not the ground-breaking graphic novel that its admirers seem to suggest. At least, I don’t think so. But it’s definitely worth a read.

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