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Cairo Paperback – October 7, 2008

4 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A lush and energetic drawing style makes for a beautiful book, but the plot of this ambitious graphic novel falls short. Wilson, a journalist who has spent many years in the city of the book's title, gamely attempts to construct a gripping narrative, mixing magic, politics and romance. Her story brings together an American tourist, a would-be suicide bomber, a female Israeli soldier, a smalltime drug runner and a radical Egyptian reporter. Add to this mix a hookah with a smooth-talking genie inside, and you have the makings of a fine story. The sum is somewhat less than its parts, however, as various subplots fail to mesh comfortably, plot points and elements of magic and legend are inadequately introduced, and a long-winded explanation of political ideals weighs down the last quarter of the book. Wilson is a talented young writer, but tells her story at an uneven pace, revealing crucial elements late in the book. Narrative faltering aside, the knowledgeable view of the Islamic world and interesting visual effects do keep the reader's attention. Perker draws the city and the legendary figures in rich detail, revealing personalities and emotional states in characters' faces. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

G. Willow Wilson is a Cairo-based author and journalist. Her articles about modern Islam and the Middle East have appeared in publications such as The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine and The Canada National Post. Wilson studied History and Arabic at Boston University, and has done archival work at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Vertigo (October 7, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401217346
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401217341
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #871,668 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Willow is author of the New York Times bestselling comic book series MS MARVEL, winner of the 2015 Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story. Her first novel, ALIF THE UNSEEN, was a New York Times Notable Book of 2012, long listed for the Women's Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize) and winner of the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel.

She enjoys British films, cooking, and Massive Multiplayer Online video games, and holds a purple belt in kajukenbo. She lives in Seattle with her husband and two children.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed this vividly illustrated jaunt with a djinni and assorted other characters through the streets of Cairo. Perker's drawings are captivating and entertaining and Wilson's text synchs beautifully. Having studied the Middle Eastern culture of the djinn and written about it in "A Genie in the House of Saud," I highly recommend this book. --KF Zuzulo
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Format: Hardcover
I picked this up without knowing anything about it, and loved it. I tend to read comics in bits over breakfast, kept reading "just a little more" to find a good place to put it down. No superheroes, but a warrior, a djinn, and plenty of demons, all well told and well drawn. Lots of plots, but all tied together nicely with good pacing. I'll look for more work from these folks.
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Format: Hardcover
Cairo is fastpaced, humane, pretty and a joy to read. But it is too short. I just felt like I wanted more character development, adventure, and plot twists. Not enough happens.
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Format: Paperback
Well, i know the review title is a bit long but i wanted it to summarize all i want to say about the book.

Apparently i'm the first Egyptian here to review the book. I must say it's a disappointment by all means. When some people told me about this graphic novel called Cairo that was released, I thought, oh my God! i have to buy this, and i did buy it the next day. The cover looks cool, the artwork all in all is very good.

I have just finished the book, and i couldn't wait to review it. I expected it to be a Joe Sacco like work. But it's not, it's full of strange mystics, and myths, reflecting weird Islamic beliefs. Things involving Ghosts, and Satan. I found out at the end of the book that the writer is a Muslim convert.

It has absolutely nothing to do with the modern Cairo, the characters are very very shallow, it is very fast paced, that i couldn't actually define or explain how the character reached a decision, or a conclusion, or even link the relationship to each other!!

I know this is G Wilson's first graphic novel, but she should of used her journalistic talent in mixing a better story that links to TODAY's Cairo. The Cairo i saw in that graphic novel has nothing to do with the Cairo I'm living in.

I can tell that the book was meant for non-Egyptians but it still draws the same view to someone who hasn't seen Cairo, that it's old, and full of desert and pyramids! I'm really sorry to say that i wish that title "Cairo" went to a more deserving work.

I'm a great fan of Graphic Novels, Alan Moore is my all time favorite graphic novels writer, so as Neil Gaiman. So i am into the fantasy, mystics and dreams. But this is very very very weak...
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Format: Paperback
Cairo the city holds many secrets for foreigners. CAIRO the graphic novel isn't so obtuse; it puts some of those secrets out there for all to see and uses them to kick off a story that is part mythology, part social commentary and part full-blown adventure.

The combination works. It's a debut from writer G. Willow Wilson and longtime illustrator M.K. Perker (TURKAN SORAY LIPS, FAIRY TALE MAFIA) that uses magic realism to propel its five principal characters into a heady battle with ultimate evil. Among the participants are Kate, a bored young American seeking meaning in a strange city; Shaheed, a fellow American of Lebanese heritage who claims to be just passing through Cairo on his way to Beirut; Ali, a political activist and newspaper columnist; Tova, a member of the Israeli Special Forces who has lost her way and needs to get back to Israel; and Ashraf, a drug smuggler who has just come into possession of a strange hookah pipe.

Of course, all five characters converge and become intertwined in a sometimes complex plot. Fairly early on, CAIRO takes a giant leap into the fantastical (this is a book about the strange world that most of us never see, after all) when Shams, a genie --- more accurately, a jinn --- pops out of the hookah. With the stage set, Wilson is able to weave in a series of fun cultural fantasy and myth against the strikingly realistic background Perker has laid out.

Shams, it seems, is under a curse put upon him by an evil magician, not to mention being chased by an evil demon. If it all sounds too gimmicky, complicated, or just plain strange, wait. Wilson has a light touch, which is exactly what CAIRO needs and deserves.
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