Ok, my next challenge book was "Akehenaten: Dweller in Truth" by Naguib Mahfouz. It qualifies for both challenges since Mr. Mahfouz won the Nobel Prize in 1988 (Book Award), and it is about Egypt(Armchair Traveler). After reading the "Cairo Trilogy" quite a few years ago, I went searching for more of this acclaimed authors work when the book award challenge started. Akhenaten reached out at me, so to speak, because not only am I interested in archaeology with a fascination on Ancient Egypt, but I will be seeing the Amarna exhibit at Penn Museum in September. I thought it would be a fitting read for the summer.
I liked this story. I read several reviews after reading the book and tend to disagree with some of the people who seem to forget that it is fiction, not historical fact. Although it was convincingly written, at times you could imagine the words as fact. It was very easy to get pulled back into ancient Egypt with the writing style. Told though the eyes of a young man who, on a trip down the Nile, questions his father about Akhenaten as they pass by the abandoned city. The boy, curious, goes on a journey to interview the people involved. I have to believe that his father was some high ranking official or perhaps in the current Pharaoh's inner circle because he has no trouble getting an audience with some powerful people, including the former wife and queen, Nefertiti who is under house arrest (This is where the book becomes fiction as many scholars believed she died before her husband.)
Each player in the tale of Akehenaten and his quest to convert ancient Egypt to monotheism has a different take on the story and of the "heretic" Pharaoh himself, leaving the reader to come to his own conclusion. Written in a interview format, each player is given a brief introduction, and then is allowed to tell his story, with minimal comments by the narrator. It was not meant to be historically factual, just a fictionalized account of a young man curious to find out about a part of his history that is being erased as he writes.
Direct and to the point, this book is simple at first glance and yet modern and thought provoking. I will be reading more of Mr. Mahfouz's stores of Ancient Egypt.