The Tragedy of Arthur: A Novel / Arthur Phillips / 368 pages / Literary Fiction
The Tragedy of Arthur is an emotional and elaborately constructed tour de force
from “one of the best writers in America” (The Washington Post). Its doomed hero
is Arthur Phillips, a young novelist struggling with a con artist father who works
wonders of deception. Imprisoned for decades and nearing the end of his life,
Arthur’s father reveals a treasure he’s kept secret for half a century: The Tragedy
of Arthur, a previously unknown play by William Shakespeare. Arthur and his twin
sister inherit their father’s mission: to see the manuscript published and
acknowledged as the Bard’s last great gift to humanity . . .unless it’s their father’s
last great con. By turns hilarious and haunting, this virtuosic novel, which includes
Shakespeare’s (?) lost play in its entirety, brilliantly subverts our notions of truth,
fiction, genius, and identity, as the two Arthurs—the novelist and the ancient king--
play out their strangely intertwined fates.
Comparable titles suggested: Big Fish by Daniel Wallace and Theft by Peter Carey.