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Dr Ragab's Universal Language
     

Dr Ragab's Universal Language

by Robert Twigger
 

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Charlatan. Guru. Master of disguise. Ahead of his time, wise beyond his years, a simple opportunist or the great pretender; however you choose to see him, one fact is certain: Dr Ragab is a mysterious man. Talked about by pretty much everyone in 1920s Cairo, only a few get the chance to make his acquaintance, and fewer still -- one person, in fact -- get to

Overview

Charlatan. Guru. Master of disguise. Ahead of his time, wise beyond his years, a simple opportunist or the great pretender; however you choose to see him, one fact is certain: Dr Ragab is a mysterious man. Talked about by pretty much everyone in 1920s Cairo, only a few get the chance to make his acquaintance, and fewer still -- one person, in fact -- get to study his life lessons. Hertwig is that lucky soul. Or not so lucky, perhaps: not when he finds himself, at the very end of the second world war, imprisoned in a bunker in Germany by a gang of thugs. To make matters worse, it's not just any bunker; it's the family bunker, built to be 100% escape-proof. And yet . . . there is a possible way out. Not in the conventional sense, it's true, but when you're holed up several feet underground, unsure of how long your captors plan to keep you alive, convention isn't necessarily a good thing, as Dr Ragab would be the first to proclaim -- and it's his universal language that may just provide Hertwig with the escape route he needs.

As unconventional as the eponymous Ragab, Robert Twigger's novel takes the reader on a surreal journey. Clever, funny and thought-provoking, Dr Ragab's Universal Language is, in every sense, beyond belief: part tall tale and part self-help manual, it is, like Dr R himself, impossible to pin down -- or, indeed, to put down.


Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In the beginning of this frustratingly vague novel by the author of Angry White Pajamas, a British narrator obsessed with bunkers is hired to write a history of a German aluminum company and is given a manuscript written by Martin Hertwig, the son of the company’s founder. In it, Hertwig claims to have been imprisoned in a bunker by former prisoners of the Reich at the end of WWII; to survive, he recalls the lessons of his mentor, Dr. Ragab, creator of ”The Universal Language.” The story then flashes back to Cairo after WWI, where Hertwig, a recovering veteran wounded on the Western Front, falls under the enigmatic Ragab’s spell and discovers the benefits of the universal language, such as the ability to become invisible. Hertwig’s narrative is punctuated by the narrator’s asides as he reads the manuscript, and details of his more humdrum life in Ealing, which includes battling his rival for the girl of his dreams. In the end, he travels to Cairo to find out how much of Hertwig’s story is true. The Hertwig-Ragab relationship is reminiscent of the Daniel–Mr. Miyagi dynamic from The Karate Kid and grows tedious. And although individual sections of the book are fascinating, the stories-within-stories structure doesn’t cohere in a way that makes the journey from Ealing to Germany to Cairo entirely worthwhile. (Dec.)
From the Publisher

"Mixes Paulo Coehlo with The English Patient. An unlikely combination but, magically, it works."  —Financial Times

"Absurdly entertaining . . . Coehlo springs to mind, but also Denis Diderot, Jonathan Swift, or Herman Hesse."  —Guardian

"Beautifully written, this is a modern-day fable, a fantastic tale of history and humanity, full of observations and ideas to be savored."—Booklist

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780330506281
Publisher:
Pan Macmillan
Publication date:
12/10/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
526 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

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Meet the Author

Robert Twigger has won the Newdigate Poetry prize, the William Hill award and is the author of Angry White Pyjamas, winner of the Somerset Maugham Award. He is married and lives in Cairo.

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