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BOOK REVIEW: Equilateral by Ken Kalfus

| 15 August 2014 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Equilateral by Ken Kalfus
Bloomsbury, $29.99
December 2013
Reviewed by Shane Pinegar

Equilateral by Ken Kalfus book cover

The idea behind ken Kalfus’ latest novel is as bold and mysterious as it is grand and inconceivable: Master Astronomer Sanford Thayer has won extraordinary international funding in the late 19th century to excavate a 300 mile-per-side equilateral triangle in the Egyptian desert, to prove to the intelligent beings he is certain inhabit Mars that we too are intelligent and educated.

Kalfus weaves a web though the project – unrest in the nine hundred thousand Arab fellahin working the project, political and religious dissent and manipulation, the arrogant conceit of British colonialism and Thayer’s own triangle – the adoration of his secretary cast against his own desire for his servant girl.

The tension builds to an inevitable climax of blood and fire purging the weaknesses of the project with a magical and highly allegorical conclusion that I won’t spoil for you here.

The thought that a massive triangle in the desert could be used to contact another planet is wholly original, as is the style of Kalfus’s prose throughout Equilateral itself. The author proves himself highly intellectual whilst remaining highly accessible. By the time the story concludes the reader is enthralled in the possibility that this project could have existed, let alone come close to succeeding, which is triumph enough.

But, despite the dramatic conclusion, we still have to ask…is it really the end of the story?

Category: Book Reviews

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