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Cairo: A Graphic Novel
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Cairo: A Graphic Novel

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  2,134 ratings  ·  323 reviews
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-
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published November 7th 2007 by Vertigo
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Average rating 3.77  · 
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 ·  2,134 ratings  ·  323 reviews

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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
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
Jul 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics
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
Feb 14, 2015 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Afro Madonna
Feb 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 .
Stewart Tame
Mar 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
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 ...more
Liz Janet
Jan 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favourites
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
Apr 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
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 ...more
"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 ...more
Jonathan Maas
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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!
Mar 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Elizabeth A
May 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015, graphix
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
Dov Zeller
Jan 22, 2016 rated it liked it
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
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels

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
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.
Jul 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Feb 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: mature teens on up
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!
Tanvir Muntasim
Aug 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
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.
Feb 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
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.
Donald Armfield
Damn black & white comics. Although this one I enjoyed. Learned a few things in my hunt for research of The Jinn.
Iman Furbee
Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was an amazing book that had a deeper meaning.
Katie Florida
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow. That was fantastic.
Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Apr 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novel
Engrossing tale, a late night read I couldn't put down. ...more
Sep 03, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: comics
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 ...more
Jul 11, 2010 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Jan 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 2018
Before G. Willow Wilson really made waves with Ms. Marvel, she burst onto the graphic novel scene with Cairo, a fast-paced adventure revolving around a jinn in a hookah (she would explore jinns more fully in Alif the Unseen , which in retrospect does feel like a natural follow-up to Cairo). Wilson spends a few pages quickly establishing the central characters—here I'll cheat and use the back cover copy to describe them as a drug runner, a down-on-his-luck journalist, an American expatriate, a ...more
Jan 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
I picked this up at the library on a whim and because I liked the cover. The illustrations didn't let me down at all; throughout they are vividly expressive. I thought the illustrator did a great job capturing nuances of speech and habit for each character.
The story itself-- well, I really wanted to give it five stars, but it's not quite there. It reminded me of Neil Gaiman's "Sandman" series in that there was a compelling and potentially powerful interweaving of myth, religion, culture, and hi
Malak Aly
Apr 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's been a while since I devoured a book in 2 hours =)
The graphic novel is a brilliant blend of Egyptian culture and American action. It has a lot of wisdom and depth for an action story about drugs and guns and kidnapping. You'd also be surprised by the amount of proper Islamic impression in which its words are soaked although the writer and crew are all non-Arabs and - I assume- even non-Muslims!
Of course, though, I've taken off a star because mixing up belief with myth & belief with opposi
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ABQ Graphic Novel...: * April 2020 G. Willow Wilson's Cairo 2 5 Mar 19, 2020 06:36AM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: Book #42: Cairo by G. Willow Wilson 1 2 Apr 24, 2013 03:36PM  

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Award-winning writer of comics and novels including MS MARVEL and THE BIRD KING.

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