The beloved, but anonymous, author who was mugged in Fort Greene Park last week was — drum roll, please — Cobble Hill writer Arthur Phillips!
The blogosphere went bananas after The Brooklyn Paper reported on the crime, but kept Phillips’s identity a secret out of concern for reprisal against the best-selling author by the still-at-large Fort Greene gunman.
But now that a suspect has been caught, Phillips, author of “The Tragedy of Arthur” and “Prague,” agreed to go public, ending Brooklyn’s greatest literary guessing game since everyone tried to figure out how Jonathan Safran Foer could afford a mansion in Park Slope after writing only one novel.
In the week between the crime and the arrest, L Magazine, Gothamist and other literary-minded borough residents couldn’t help but try to guess the mugged scribe’s identity from the only clues we provided:
• He lives in Cobble Hill.
• He is married.
• He is the father of two sons, 12 and 8 years old.
Gothamist guessed badly.
“Jonathan Safran Foer has two children with Nicole Krauss, but they are too young to fit the description,” Gothamist wrote, ignoring that Foer and Krauss live near Prospect Park West. “Could it have been Pulitzer Prize-winner Jennifer Egan, who has two sons, playing a trick with gender reversal?”
Not likely; Egan lives in Fort Greene.
On The Brooklyn Paper’s website, readers also made some lame guesses.
“My guess is Mo Willems,” offered Joey from Clinton Hill, forgetting that the “Knuffle Bunny” author last made headlines in the kid’s book world’s Paper of Record for moving to Massachusetts.
Then L Magazine nailed it.
“Our best guess? Arthur Phillips lives in Cobble Hill with his wife and two sons,” Henry Stewart predicted. “We’d bet on Phillips, because The Brooklyn Paper wrote about him once before — years ago, but still.”
Correct. But this literary mystery could never have been solved without our initial coverage of the armed robber who terrorized park-goers for two straight weeks before holding up the author on Sept. 17.
The writer said he was on the steps of the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument at 3:30 pm while his kids played in the distance. That’s when the marauder flashed a gun and demanded cash, so the victim handed over his money clip.
The crook took $150, but accidentally stole a wish list of books during the “professional transaction.”
Phillips originally didn’t want to be named to protect his family.
But cops nabbed the gunman on Saturday — so he felt inspired to sing their praises and plea for the suspect to return a scrap of paper with a short list of novels that Phillips wants to read.
“If he has it, I’d be glad for him to give it back to me,” said the cheeky and unfazed author. “If he hasn’t already read everything on the list.”
Phillips is a Minneapolis native and rising star in the Brooklyn author echelon. He’s a former child actor, jazz musician and five-time “Jeopardy!” champion.
His first novel, “Prague,” was about young American expats in Budapest in the early 1990s. It became a national bestseller, which Phillips followed with “The Egyptologist,” another bestseller.
In 2009, Phillips was the only Brooklyn author to reach the finals of a St. Francis College literary contest for fourth novels with “The Song is You.”
His fifth book, “The Tragedy of Arthur,” a mock-memoir about a man who discovers that his ne’er-do-well father possesses a long-lost Shakespeare play, was released in spring to glowing reviews.
He’s working on another book.