Profile: Modern Fantasy, Urban, Middle Eastern, Graphic Novel
Cairo is, in many ways, a prototype for G. Willow Wilson’s later novel, Alif the Unseen. They are stories of clashing cultures. Both the complex internal clash between Islamic hardliners and the culturally diverse youth of the Middle East, and the more external, if no less complex conflict between encroaching western culture and the entrenched lifestyles of Muslims. By necessity, Cairo is more spare, crashing through a much simpler plot at breakneck pace, but it manages to hit the same powerful notes that Alif does.
The comic starts as the story of Ashraf, an Egyptian drug smuggler who makes regular runs across the border into Israel. On one such run, he wrecks his car on a stoned camel (exactly as funny as it sounds), loses his shipment and ends up stealing a hookah from his employer to make some fast cash. But the hookah is home to a jinn, Shams, a beneficent creature who owns a box that could give control of the entire Middle East to anyone who possesses it.