The Collector of Worlds: Book summary and reviews of The Collector of Worlds by Iliya Troyanov

The Collector of Worlds

A Novel of Sir Richard Francis Burton

by Iliya Troyanov

The Collector of Worlds by Iliya Troyanov X
The Collector of Worlds by Iliya Troyanov
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  • Published in USA  Sep 2009
    464 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

Iliya Troyanov's fictionalized account imagines the life of Sir Richard Francis Burton - a 19th-century British colonial officer with a rare ability to assimilate into indigenous cultures. Burton's obsessive traveling took him from England to British India, Arabia, and on a quest for the source of the Nile River in Africa. He learned more than 20 languages, translated "The Arabian Nights" and the "Kama Sutra", and took part in the pilgrimage to Mecca, in addition to writing several travel books.

This elegant, layered novel tells the story of Burton's adventures in British West India, his experience on the hajj to Mecca, and his exploration of East Africa. In each section, perspective shifts between Burton and the voices of those men he encounters along the way: his Indian servant tells the stories of his travails with Burton to ascribe; the qadi, the governor, and the shari in Mecca investigate Burton's hajj; and, Sidi Mubarak Bombay, his African guide, shares his story with friends in Zanzibar. These concentric narratives examine the underbelly of colonialism while offering a breathtaking tour of the 19th century's most stunning landscapes.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Troyanov... is intimately acquainted with the Indian Ocean world, and this book has the cool virtuosity of one explorer saluting another." - Publishers Weekly

"Troyanov's narrative interludes offer additional information about Burton's activities in India, Arabia, and Africa but reveal little about what drove him to danger and adventure." - Library Journal

"An intriguing narrative foregrounds Burton's multifaceted and complex personality, from his love of disguise and his intellectual interests to his sexual proclivities. " - Kirkus Reviews

"Troyanov artfully employs multiple narrators, lending these adventures both depth and perspective. Historical-fiction aficionados will definitely want to accompany this seasoned voyager on his exotic journeys." - Booklist

"In The Collector of Worlds, Iliya Troyanov has turned Burton's unbelievable life into believable fiction, achieving a rounded and satisfying portrait that traditional biography could never match…Troyanov's novel is itself an act of brave exploration, setting out to chart the unknown and unknowable by filling in the blank spaces of Richard Francis Burton." - New York Times

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More Information

Born in Bulgaria, Iliya Troyanov has lived in Germany, Kenya, India, and South Africa. He has written several novels as well as travelogues on Africa, India, and Bulgaria. His Along the Ganges was included in CondÉ Nast Traveler's list of the best travelogues ever. Troyanov lives in Vienna, Austria.

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