Cheops by Paul West
A Cupboard for the Sun

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Paul West creates a glorious, powerful Sun King of Egypt, bent on a death worthy of his great pyramid at Giza.

Known for wrapping readers in his historical web, Paul West, in his marvelous, new novel, turns his attention to the 4th Dynasty (approx. 2680 BC) of ancient Egypt. Here, we find the pharaoh Cheops, building the great pyramids at Giza, surrounded by workers and solar boats. According to the Greek historian Herodotus, "a hundred thousand men were made to toil constantly for him," and, as Herodotus claimed, Egypt was "plunged into all manner of wickedness." In Cheops, West delightfully has Herodotus transported back in time, to meet the great pharaoh, face to face. Nearing death, getting ready for his final "transportation to the stars," the blind Cheops is obsessed with preparing for his end. All the while, the intrigues of his daughters, sons, wives, and courtiers are revealed, uncovering murder, incest, and rebellion. Most intriguing is the overarching narration told by Osiris, god of the Nile, who comments on this swarm of events with hilarious and humane authority. Profound and entertaining, Cheops: A Cupboard for the Sun is perhaps Paul West's greatest novel yet.


About Paul West

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Paul West was born in 1930 in England, and educated at Oxford and Columbia Universities. Besides 18 novels he is also the author of ten works of non-fiction. He has taught at Brown, Cornell, and Arizona. His honors include a 1993 Lannan Prize for Fiction, an Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. In 1996 the French government made him a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters. He moved to the US in 1957, and presently resides in Ithaca, New York.
Published November 17, 2002 by New Directions Publishing. 276 pages
Genres: History, Travel, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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and the wily marital and maternal maneuverings of Cheops’s wife (and, formerly, his father’s wife) Merytytes, who knows only too well how females may survive (“Woman must ever expect to marry her father, sleep with her brother, be the constant target of uncles and nephews”).

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Publishers Weekly

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West (A Fifth of November) examines the legacy of the Egyptian leader who built the great pyramids in his latest historical novel, a vividly imagined but flawed book that begins with the once-powerful Cheops fighting a series of grave illnesses.

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