The Egyptologist

Publisher Random House, September 2004

From the critically-acclaimed, best-selling 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 novel opens on the desert plains of Egypt in 1922, before winding its way from the slums of 1900s Australia to the ballrooms of 1920s Boston, by way of Oxford, the battlefields of the First World War, a royal court in turmoil in 1700 BC, and an idyllic English country house where nothing is quite as it should be.

Just as Howard Carter unveils the tomb of Tutankhamun, making the most dazzling find in the history of Egyptology, 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 culminate 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 the best-sellingPrague 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 a glimpse of Phillips’ range and maturity, and is sure to earn him acclaim as one of the most exciting novelists of his generation.

“What a splendid, funny, bewitching book…
Beneath Arthur Phillip’s singular wit and peerless comic timing, lies a spot-on parable of 20th Century self-delusion and the painfully fruitless quest for immortality.”
Gary Shteyngart, author of 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

“The dueling voices of a nostalgic detective and the monomaniacal archeologist 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

The Egyptologist