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The Egyptologistby Arthur Phillips
"I'd be surprised if you didn't have the central mystery of this caper figured out somewhere before the halfway point. But here's the thing: I'd also be surprised if this bothered you too much. After all, when is the last time somebody made the effort to spin you a tale? When is the last time somebody wrote you a letter? When is the last time you encountered a contemporary writer with Phillips's far-reaching interests and easy facility with far-away places, far-away times?" Benjamin Alsup, Esquire (read the entire Esquire review)
"Ancient Egypt and detective stories inspire a similar feverish obsession, and Arthur Phillips, in his new novel The Egyptologist, has a pretty good idea why. The novel, disguised as a collection of letters and journal entries, traces two stories, each woven from a mix of fact and fabrication, by two very different men....The real game lies in the slow revelation of why neither man can allow himself to understand the truth and how what we need to believe about the world often becomes more important to us than our own lives." Laura Miller, Salon.com (read the entire Salon.com review)
"The Egyptologist is nothing like Phillips's bestselling debut, Prague, and yet it's full of all the dazzling talent he showed there. Presented as a collection of letters, telegrams, journals, drawings, scholarly analysis, and ancient (ribald) poems, the book opens like some long-sealed chamber of mysteries. But beware: Trust no one who's read this novel, particularly reviewers, whose damp breath and careless touch could easily disintegrate its wonders before you can enjoy them...." Ron Charles, The Christian Science Monitor (read the entire Christian Science Monitor review)
Synopses & ReviewsPlease note that used books may not include additional media (study guides, CDs, DVDs, solutions manuals, etc.) as described in the publisher comments.
From the bestselling author of Prague comes a witty, inventive, brilliantly constructed novel about an Egyptologist obsessed with finding the tomb of an apocryphal king. This darkly comic labyrinth of a story opens on the desert plains of Egypt in 1922, then winds its way from the slums of Australia to the ballrooms of Boston by way of Oxford, the battlefields of the First World War, and a royal court in turmoil.
Just as Howard Carter unveils the tomb of Tutankhamun, making the most dazzling find in the history of archaeology, Oxford-educated Egyptologist Ralph Trilipush is digging himself into trouble, having staked his professional reputation and his fiancée’s fortune on a scrap of hieroglyphic pornography. Meanwhile, a relentless Australian detective sets off on the case of his career, spanning the globe in search of a murderer. And another murderer. And possibly another murderer. The confluence of these seemingly separate stories results in an explosive ending, at once inevitable and utterly unpredictable.
Arthur Phillips leads this expedition to its unforgettable climax with all the wit and narrative bravado that made Prague one of the most critically acclaimed novels of 2002. Exploring issues of class, greed, ambition, and the very human hunger for eternal life, this staggering second novel gives us a glimpse of Phillips’s range and maturity — and is sure to earn him further acclaim as one of the most exciting authors of his generation.
"How was Phillips to follow up a debut as startlingly brilliant as Prague? By doing something completely different. His story, set mostly in Egypt in the early 1920s, stars Ralph Trilipush, an obsessive Egyptologist. Trilipush is more than a little odd. He is pinning his hopes on purported king Atum-hadu, whose erotic verses he has discovered and translated; now he must locate his tomb and its expected riches. Meanwhile, an Australian detective, for reasons too complicated to go into, is seeking to unmask Trilipush, who may have had some relationship with a young Australian Egyptologist who died mysteriously. Trilipush and the detective are two quite unreliable narrators, and the effect is that of a hall of mirrors. Where does fact end and imagination, illusion and wishful thinking begin? Phillips is a master manipulator, able to assume a dozen convincingly different voices at will, and his book is vastly entertaining. It's apparent that something dire is afoot, but the reader, while apprehensive, can never quite figure out what. The ending, which cannot be revealed, is shocking and cleverly contrived." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The dueling voices of a nostalgic detective and the monomaniacal archaeologist he pursues around the world are only part of the treasure contained in The Egyptologist. Crafted with nuanced erudition and literary flair, Phillips uncovers the hieroglyphs (not hieroglyphics — but you'll learn that) and building blocks beneath how we construct, interpret, and trust our storytellers. Highly textured, quirky, serpentine, surprising." Matthew Pearl, author of The Dante Club
"Highly recommended for everyone in search of buried treasure." Library Journal
"What a splendid, funny, bewitching book....Beneath Arthur Phillips's singular wit and peerless comic timing, lies a spot-on parable of twentieth-century self-delusion and the painfully fruitless quest for immortality." Gary Shteyngart, author of The Russian Debutante's Handbook
"A wildly pleasurable, dazzling reading experience, big in heart and execution: crazed, ecstatic, and entertaining in the deepest sense of the word. Arthur Phillips is a terrifically talented writer, and these pages overflow with wit, mad humor, and, finally, a deep undercurrent of pathos." George Saunders, author of Pastoralia and Civil War Land in Bad Decline
"[C]lever, labyrinthine....[A] suave, elegant novel, replete with sinuously composed sentences and delicious wordplay....Phillips's formidable research and witty prose make this one well worth your time. He's quite possibly a major novelist in the making." Kirkus Reviews
"Phillips follows...Prague with an equally inventive if totally unexpected foray into ancient Egypt....Phillips proves himself once again to be a wildly creative storyteller." Booklist
"This witty second novel plays with fire — Pale Fire, that is — by daring to appropriate the scheme of Nabokov's cleverest novel....Phillips is nearly as deft as Nabokov at parodying the academic mind..." The New Yorker
"One piece of the mystery becomes obvious early on, but The Egyptologist is still an interesting, convoluted sort of puzzle....Phillips has missed an opportunity, though, to create a work that is more than clever." The Oregonian (Portland, OR)
"[A] wonder, a work of imaginative prowess that more than fulfills the promise of Prague. It's ambitious. It's inventive. It's challenging. And it's the kind of book that puts a writer's career on track..." San Francisco Chronicle
"[The reader has] to slog through a lot of details of Egyptology that are, frankly, on the boring side. The novel, which starts out with a great deal of charm and momentum, bogs down three-quarters of the way through." Chicago Tribune
"[A] kind of brainy animated cartoon in novel form....Some of its contrivances are a bit wobbly, and none of its characters is wholly human, but it often verges on brilliance — though it's inconsequential brilliance." San Jose Mercury News
"While the book is too long and the artifice eventually gets to be too heavy, Phillips has successfully avoided the sophomore jinx and the curse of the mummy." Cleveland Plain Dealer
"The book is a little long on excavation details and Atum-hadu's life, but press on. The payoff is worth the occasional long-windedness. You'll be left to wonder: Where in the fictional world will that swashbuckling Phillips turn up next?" Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Phillips spices things up with a few post-modern twists in characterization....The Egyptologist requires a bit of faith and a lot of digging in places, but it finally yields up its somewhat morbid treasures in the end." Rocky Mountain News
"Among the delights of Phillips' accomplished, exhaustively researched novel is its subtextual fascination with perception and the often willfully blinkered aspects of human interaction." Newsday
"The Egyptologist, a novel very much worth reading, will certainly have its fans, but one suspects they will not be the same fans, or at least not fans in the same way, as those who loved Prague." Tom Bissell, The New York Times Book Review
"Who would have thought archaeology could be so involving? The Egyptologist is a tale as deep as it is tall." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Phillips' rollicking plot winds down to a finish both poignant and eye-popping — not a combination one finds every day! His entertaining characters are believably two- or three-faced, and his phrasing is gorgeous." Detroit Free Press
"[T]he reader is happy enough to keep reading, diverted by the characters' clever chatter and the author's zippy prose. But...by the book's midpoint, the reader...has begun to wonder why this novel is as long and long-winded as it is." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"The author deftly shifts back and forth among a half-dozen voices and styles....
"Erotic hieroglyphics, a nosy Aussie investigator, and a shocking end make this one of the year's best." Entertainment Weekly
About the Author
Arthur Phillips’s first novel, Prague, was a national bestseller, a New York Times Notable Book, recipient of the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, and has been translated into seven languages. Phillips lives in New York with his wife and two sons.
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