Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Staff Pick - The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who Got Trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe by Romain Puertolas
The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who Got Trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe by Romain Puertolas, a big hit in France and 36 countries worldwide, is a delightful first novel.
Our hero, Ajatashatru Oghash Rathod, a notable charlatan from a remote Indian village, famous for “swallowing retractable swords, eating broken glass made from zero calorie sugar, stabbing his arms with fake needles and a heap of other conjuring tricks”, begins his adventure in Paris. His destination is IKEA and his mission is to buy the bed of nails, Hertsyörbåk model.
Armed only with a broken pair of Police sunglasses, a fake 100-Euro note and without money for a hotel room Rajasthan hides in IKEA store overnight in a blue metal wardrobe,“the signature piece of the all-new American Teenager collection,” which then gets shipped out. Ajatashatru ends up in a truck with seven Sudanese refugees being trafficked to England. Learning from the men what they have gone through to get to one of the “good countries,” he reflects: “To the police, they were illegal aliens; to the Red Cross, they were people in need. It was unsettling to live with such a duality and with constant fear in the gut.”
Ajatashatru's European voyage around the continent is full of discoveries: he travels to Italy in a suitcase, flies to Libya in a hot air balloon and writes his first bestselling novel on his shirt. The fakir learns about immigration, friendship, and love. He slowly understands that tricking people will not lead to a fulfilling life.
Despite the whimsical title The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who Got Trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe is a simple novel of change. It’s witty, quirky, and lighthearted.
The novel reminded me of The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared and The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Swedish author Jonas Jonasson.