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3 Burnside Literature- A to Z

The Egyptologist

by

The Egyptologist Cover

 

Review-A-Day

"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 & Reviews

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.

Review:

"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.)

Review:

"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

Review:

"Highly recommended for everyone in search of buried treasure." Library Journal

Review:

"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

Review:

"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

Review:

"[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

Review:

"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

Review:

"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

Review:

"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)

Review:

"[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

Review:

"[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

Review:

"[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

Review:

"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

Review:

"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

Review:

"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

Review:

"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

Review:

"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

Review:

"Who would have thought archaeology could be so involving? The Egyptologist is a tale as deep as it is tall." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Review:

"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

Review:

"[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

Review:

"The author deftly shifts back and forth among a half-dozen voices and styles....[T]he audacity of his creation [is] as great as that of his protagonist's, and the success of it even greater." Orlando Sentinel

Review:

"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.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

gretchs, June 12, 2012 (view all comments by gretchs)
This is a difficult book to get through, but, like life of pi, is all about the ending. When I reached the end, I found myself searching through the rest of the book, looking for passages to prove what I suspected. The characters aren't necessarily 'likeable' but they are interesting, and encouraged me to continue through the book to see where they would end up. Not all the issues/ questions are answered, of course. The format of the book is also different, and the unreliability of the different narrators kept me interested page after page.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Peter Saucerman, November 29, 2011 (view all comments by Peter Saucerman)
With all due respect to the cheerleaders - this book was like castor oil for me. I took three runs at it, could not stomach it beyond page 100. Not a single likeable character, not a mystery that engaged, full of pomp and bombast - I could not care less about any of the so-called characters. The memo dates, jumping backward, forward, one day, twenty years, two months - one would need a dedicated white board to chart this fluff, and still what would be the point? Anyone want a nice clean copy? you can have it for postage.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
KimMiE, January 28, 2010 (view all comments by KimMiE)
The Egyptologist is one of those wonderful stories that's about the journey rather than the destination. Disguised as a mystery, the novel doesn't try to hide the solution (it's easy to guess long before you reach the end), but revels in letting the reader figure out what's going on in spite of the characters' delusions, vagueries, and outright lies. Unfolding by way of masterful self-revelation, the Egyptologist is clever, well-told, and one of the most fun reads I've picked up in a long time.
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View all 3 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780812972597
Author:
Phillips, Arthur
Publisher:
Random House Trade
Subject:
General
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
Americans
Subject:
Antiquities
Subject:
Historical fiction
Subject:
Egypt
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
Literary
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20050531
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
21 DRAWINGS THROUGHOUT
Pages:
416
Dimensions:
8.08x5.18x.93 in. .68 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » American Studies » Popular Culture

The Egyptologist Used Trade Paper
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$3.50 In Stock
Product details 416 pages Random House Trade - English 9780812972597 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "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.)
"Review A Day" by , "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?" (read the entire Esquire review)
"Review A Day" by , "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." (read the entire Salon.com review)
"Review A Day" by , "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...." (read the entire Christian Science Monitor review)
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "Highly recommended for everyone in search of buried treasure."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "[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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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..."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "[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..."
"Review" by , "[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."
"Review" by , "[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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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?"
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "Among the delights of Phillips' accomplished, exhaustively researched novel is its subtextual fascination with perception and the often willfully blinkered aspects of human interaction."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "Who would have thought archaeology could be so involving? The Egyptologist is a tale as deep as it is tall."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "[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."
"Review" by , "The author deftly shifts back and forth among a half-dozen voices and styles....[T]he audacity of his creation [is] as great as that of his protagonist's, and the success of it even greater."
"Review" by , "Erotic hieroglyphics, a nosy Aussie investigator, and a shocking end make this one of the year's best."
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