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 narrative bravado that garnered Prague such critical acclaim. Exploring issues of class, greed, ambition, and the very human hunger for eternal life, this staggering second novel demonstrates Phillips’s range and maturity, for which he has been hailed as one of the most exciting authors of his generation.
'Some of the most amusingly unreliable narrators you'll find in literature ... Bears the mark of a deliciously devious imagination ... [The Egyptologist] offers a king's bounty of lively, sparkling conceptions and misconceptions.'
Los Angeles Times
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'Cleverly crafted whodunit ... The Egyptologist is complicated, fulfilling, and full of good characters.'
New York Post
'The Egyptologist soars so high, into clouds of such bright comic invention, that Phillips achieves a hilarity equal to anything in Prague ... A novel very much worth reading.'
New York Times Book Review (Editor's Choice)
'Phillips is a master manipulator, able to assume a dozen convincingly different voices at will, and his book is vastly entertaining ...The ending, which cannot be revealed, is shocking.'
'The Egyptologist is a wonder, a work of imaginative prowess that more than fulfills the promise of Prague. It's ambitious. It's inventive. It's challenging ... What remains perfectly clear ... is Phillips' rapid ascension as a novelist of complexity, depth, and vast imagination.'
San Francisco Chronicle (Editors' Recommendation)
'The Egyptologist is an ambitious satire that combines classic adventure fiction, academic comedy and shades of Evelyn Waugh … Phillips' novel is full of sharp wit, amusingly drawn characters and snappy action.'
Cameron Woodhead, The Age
'Arthur Phillips' The Egyptologist is an ambitious satire that combines classic adventure fiction, academic comedy and shades of Evelyn Waugh.'
'Phillips is nearly as deft as Nabokov at parodying the academic mind.'
The New Yorker
'Why believe what antiquity tells us when the present is so often made of lies? It is a testament to Mr. Phillips's art that The Egyptologist keeps us reading to the very end without ever answering the question.'
The Wall Street Journal
'What you'll love: opium-addicted heiresses, sexy communists, Australian detectives and real-life figures ... heighten the novel's dazzling complexity.'
The Washington Post
'Phillips pulls off [the narrative] triumphantly. The book is a tour de force of plotting and narrative technique ... one of the most horrendously, hideously humorous endings in modern fiction. It ... will knock you out.'
'Tragic, pathetic, blackly funny ... and with a strange, growing undercurrent of horror. You have never read a novel like it.'