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Posted December 10, 2008
Mahfouz takes plenty of liberties with the scant historical evidence regarding his subject, Pharaoh Akhenaten. He employs the tactic of a traveling (ancient) reporter gathering data from eyewitnesses. Each tells essentially the same story, albeit with different shadings and spins. This device is clever if properly used, but here it is not.<BR/><BR/>We are given virtually no character development for the reporter or his interviewees. Separator paragraphs inserted in each interview are almost identical, and tedious. Mahfouz writing style is wooden; one might just as well be reading an engineering manual.<BR/><BR/>The book has no beginning, no middle, and no ending ... it just rambles. I finished it because it is mercifully short. Actually, it is too short to be a true novel, and is more of a lengthy short story, but at a full novel price. The real mystery is not Akhenaten, but how Mahfouz got a Nobel prize!
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