Monday 17 March 2014

The Extraordinary Journey of The Fakir Who Got Trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe - Romain Puertolas

My second book choice for the day was chosen partly for it's funky cover, but mainly for the total contrast with the darkness of Bird Box.

On the face of it this is a light hearted and slightly silly book in the same style as the Hundred Year Old Man. We have a semi-Swedish setting (OK so it's a French Ikea, but I did say semi-Swedish), we have an insanely long title and we have an unlikely tale that spans continents and draws in a wide range of characters. The Fakir of the title cons his village into getting him a ticket to Paris so he can visit an Ikea and buy a new bed of nails, having conned a Parisian taxi driver and holed away overnight in the store he becomes trapped in a wardrobe that is being shipped out and his adventure begins. All rather silly, and rather funny. If that is what you want to take from this story then it is all there. It is amusing, and just ridiculous enough to keep you entertained the whole way through. However there are some serious undertones to this story, the Fakir is not in Europe illegally, yet circumstances end up forcing him into the position of illegal immigrant. in this role he is able to meet others who are looking for a new life in one of the 'good countries'.
These meetings allow these secondary characters to explain why they have decided to endure such hardship in order to reach a new life in the West, as well as allowing the author room to discuss some of the cruel treatment inflicted upon these individuals by traffickers and by the authorities. The examination of British immigration seems to be particularly scathing, although Lampedusa in Italy also comes in for some stick.
I'm sure that most people will pick this up, as I did, looking for some light comic relief; I just hope that they will all appreciate the serious moments that add depth to a fun lighthearted story.

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