Equilateral: A Novel (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

Equilateral is a strange and beautiful book. It’s the late 19th century; life has been discovered on Mars and an astronomer is building a monument on the Egyptian desert to signal the presence of intelligent life here on Earth. It's part historical fiction, part science fiction, and part mathematical puzzle, a literary treat for the reader who likes slow-moving, meticulously written and very unusual books. Its dry tone belies the slow build of suspense driving up the stakes little by little. And the ending will knock your socks off.


— From Equilateral


It's the late nineteenth century, and British astronomer Sanford Thayer has won international funding for his scheme to excavate an equilateral triangle, three hundred miles to a side, from the remote wastes of Egypt's Western Desert. Nine hundred thousand Arab fellahin have been put to work on the project, even though they can't understand Thayer's obsessive purpose. They don't believe him when he says his perfect triangle will be visible to the highly evolved beings who inhabit the planet Mars, signaling the existence of civilization on Earth. Political and religious dissent rumbles through the camps. There's also a triangle of another sort-a romantic one, involving Thayer's secretary, who's committed to the man and his vision, and the mysterious servant girl he covets without sharing a common language. In the wind-blasted, lonely, fever-dream outpost known only as Point A, we plumb the depths of self-delusion and folly that comprise Thayer's characteristically human enterprise.

Illustrated throughout with black-and-white astronomical diagrams, Equilateral is an elegant intellectual comedy that's extravagant in its conception and intimately focused on the implications of empire, colonization, and what we expect from contact with “the other.”

About the Author

Ken Kalfus is the author of two novels, The Commissariat of Enlightenment and A Disorder Peculiar to the Country, which was a finalist for the 2006 National Book Award. He's also published two collections of stories, Thirst and Pu-239 and Other Russian Fantasies, a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. His books have been translated into more than ten foreign languages. He lives in Philadelphia.

Product Details
ISBN: 9781620400166
ISBN-10: 1620400162
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication Date: March 4th, 2014
Pages: 224
Language: English