Title: The Tragedy of the Korosko
Author: Arthur Conan Doyle
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Egyptian Literature
Publisher: The Gutenberg Project
Page Amount: 144 pages
Blurb From Goodreads: As a group of Western tourists travel down the Nile on the steamer Korosko towards the historical sites near Egypt’s southern border, they are kidnapped by a marauding band of dervishes who demand their conversion to Islam. Cut off from the world, deprived of the comforts of civilized society, and shaken in their beliefs, they will have to overcome the most arduous obstacles to regain their freedom and safety. Written toward the end of the Victorian era and permeated with a sense of fear and uncertainty, this story calls into question the moral authority of Europe’s presence in the Arab peninsula and the cultural supremacy of British colonialism, all the while demonstrating Conan Doyle’s unparalleled ability as a storyteller.
Why Read: For once, I did not get this book through NetGalley, I found it on my own through the amazing program called the Gutenberg Project. In case you don’t know what it is, I’ll give a brief overview. Gutenberg puts online editions of books that have lost their copyright, making it possible to quickly download all of Jane Austen’s and Arthur Conan Doyle’s works as long as you’re willing to read them in EBook format (and I certainly don’t mind). Having read so many of the Sherlock Holmes series, I was hard pressed in finding a reason not to read this quick short story.
Review: Quick disclaimer before the review actually begins: If you aren’t a fan of writing which blatantly talks about imperialism, don’t read this book. Much as I enjoyed the characters of all different archetypes and scenes of the Egyptian past – there is a lot of theoretical discussion about the place that Great Britain should be taking in the world of 1898. But despite that, The Tragedy of the Korosko is a fascinating read. When I read books from the eras past, it always reminds me how much more lyrical the dialogue and descriptions are.
Not that I don’t enjoy that. But it’s certainly a difference from reading The Fault In Our Stars, which I did enjoy, but couldn’t have sounded any more different.
Back to the book!
In the world of Korosko, the pack of tourists sets off for Egypt, each having a different reason for their journey and different viewpoints about the people of Egypt and the place of the British Empire. It’s worth noting that religion does play a rather large part in the book as it rounds up at the ending… and although I’m not particularly a fan of overly religious writing – it’s covered in a way that isn’t as annoying as per usual.
The characters are all representative of some type of person, whether it be the young and naive girl or the overly sarcastic and ‘realist’ veteran. They all play their roles to perfection, and though it can be a bit tiresome due to the fact that there’s no surprises about what a character will do – I was happily surprised to see that even within 144 pages, Doyle has characters which I could somewhat emphasize with.
Looking at the plot, I will admit that although I did like it, there was some drawbacks. The different events, exciting as they were, were written about in an almost dry and uninterested tone so that I would sometimes forget that the tourists were hostages and fighting for their lives in the midst of the Arabian desert. Not to mention: it carried every stereotype of ‘White Man Writing About Savages’ Alert that you could think of.
Nevertheless, I would recommend this book to people who are looking for an older read and something that memorialized imperialistic thought into literature… not to sound presumptuous or anything.
Rating: 3.7/5 Stars
Review Coming Soon: No Place to Hide by W.L. Warren