The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who Got Trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe, by Romain Puertolas (2014)

Contemporary Fiction
The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who Got Trapped in an IKEA WardrobeI don’t mind admitting the title of this novel caught my attention. Originally published in French, it is translated by Sam Taylor, who does an amazing job of conveying the original text’s humour in puns (not an easy feat!). A fakir is a person who lives on alms, in this case earned through magic tricks. The eponymous fakir is Ajatashatru (mangled by the folks he meets into A-Japanese-Ass-Toot, I-Just-Had-Sex-Too, something about Rat-Stew and many more), who leaves India for the first time in his life, intent on buying a bed of nails from Ikea in Paris. The bed takes a night to be delivered, and he cannot afford a hotel stay, so Ajatashatru does the only thing he can; he hides under a bed as the store closes, and proceeds to spend the night.
That’s when the trouble started. Overall, I enjoyed this rascally character and his transformation through a series of unexpected travels, all highly unlikely but entertaining nonetheless. The author delivers some not-too-subtle messages about racism, immigration, and how our view of others is veiled by our own prejudices and experiences. I was disappointed in the ending, which was wrapped up like a birthday gift. This may be a cultural preference, but it left me wanting more mystery. Borrow this one rather than buying it, and consider skipping it in favour of better writing in The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, A Man Called Ove, or the sweet and moving Julio’s Day for a graphic novel experience..
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About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

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