WHO: Romain Puertolas
WHAT: THE EXTRAORDINARY JOURNEY OF THE FAKIR WHO GOT TRAPPED IN AN IKEA WARDROBE, a novel
WHEN: Published by Knopf January 27, 2015
WHERE: Set in Paris…and across Europe.
WHY: “A manic yet incisive satire.
“French author Puértolas’s first novel to be translated stateside is a farcical tale with a dark underbelly. Indian fakir Ajatashatru Oghash Rathod gets into trouble when he travels to France to buy a new bed of nails (named hertsyörbåk, in a pun) at a Parisian Ikea.
“Rathod decides to spend the night at the furniture store, trying out beds like Goldilocks and dining on leftover Swedish food. His idyll is soon interrupted by a group of employees; seeking refuge in a wardrobe, Rathod is bubble-wrapped and shipped out, entering not Narnia but a claustrophobic world of illegal immigrants.
“Puértolas delights in wordplay and gets plenty of mileage out of (mis-)pronunciations of the fakir’s name (‘A-jar-of-rat-stew-oh-gosh!’ morphs into ‘A-jackal-that-ate-you’), as well as the ridiculous lexicon of Ikea furniture. This wordplay runs alongside the stark reality of the refugees, people whose ‘only mistake was to have been born on the wrong side of the Mediterranean.’ Grumpy border agents shunt them from one place to another, seeing only problems, not humanity, crammed into the world’s tiniest spaces.”
From the beginning of the book: The first word spoken by the Indian man Ajatashatru Oghash Rathod upon his arrival in France was, oddly enough, a Swedish word. Ikea. That was what he said in a quiet voice. Having pronounced this word, he shut the door of the old red Mercedes and waited, his hands resting on his silky knees like a well-behaved child. The taxi driver, who was not sure he had heard correctly, turned around to face his customer, making the little wooden beads of his seat cover creak as he did so.
Translated from the French by Sam Taylor
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Jessica Purcell | 212-572-2082 | firstname.lastname@example.org