Professor Michael David Lukas Wins National Jewish Book Award

Thursday, January 10, 2019
Photo of Michael David Lukas standing in front of a tree on a nature trail

J. (SAN FRANCISCO) -- Lukas, an assistant professor of creative writing at San Francisco State University, told J. that the news was “extra surprising and extra gratifying and also very welcome.”

His first novel, The Oracle of Stamboul, won the 2015 Anne and Robert Cowan Writers Award, presented by the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation. This is his first National Jewish Book Award.

“It’s a real honor to be among many wonderful people who won this year, and to be a part of this award that goes back to 1949,” Lukas said. “Looking at this long list of writers is humbling — to use an overused word.”

The Last Watchman of Old Cairo, which is Lukas’ second fictional portrayal of Jewish communities in the former Ottoman empire, imagines a Muslim family that served as security guards for more than 1,000 years at the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Cairo. The synagogue holds a treasure trove of historical Jewish documents known as the Cairo Geniza, which Lukas researched for his novel.

Photo by Irene Young