That's one way of describing what he's staring at.
Barkut is a walled city state on the earth in a parallel universe. It's located in roughly the region where Arabian states live in our world.
Tony Gregg, a young man from New York, is washed ashore a few miles from the city - in the tradition of magical island stories. He has been seeking this place as a trader - monopoly trade between an alternate world & New York ought to be profitable.
He will instead find himself in a world of adventures where humans & djinns exist in a warring state.
Okay. Opening sentence:
This is the story of what happened to Tony Gregg after he had learned about the fourth dimension—or maybe it was the fifth or sixth—in a shishkebab restaurant in the Syrian quarter on lower East Broadway, New York.
He didn't go to the restaurant originally to learn about the fourth dimension. His first visit was simply for shishkebab, which is a wonderful dish of lamb cubes skewered on small round sticks and cooked with an unlikely sauce containing grape leaves. It was quite accidental that he asked the owner of the restaurant about a coin that he—Tony—carried as a luck-piece.
If you are captivated, the entire book is here. Mostly for djinn fetishists, I suspect.