The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir who got Trapped in an IKEA Wardrobe
By Romain Puertolas
A fakir by trade, Ajatashatru Oghash, takes an unexpected trip across Europe and into Africa in what should have only been a few hours in Paris. Aja travels by plane, taxi, wardrobe, trunk, hot air balloon, and merchant ship and meets a variety of individuals before he realizes his ultimate destination.
On the surface, this story is whimsical, fantastical, and even enjoyable. I found myself anticipating the protagonist’s next misadventure. But it was within the first two pages of the novel I found myself thinking some of the humor was racist. In a running joke that lasts throughout the novel and extends to several characters, the story offers multiple phonetic translations of certain names, for example: “Ajatashatru Oghash (pronounced A-jar-of-rat-stew-oh-gosh!)”. I know this doesn’t blatantly intend to harm or degrade a person of another race, but it’s that ever present racism that makes fun of anything different. And in this case, that difference is the inability for a Westerner to pronounce an Indian name. On the flip side, Puertolas’ novel touched upon the struggles of immigrants, so it made me go, “huh?” I also wish the other characters that Aja met were fleshed out beyond stereotypes (with the slight exception of Assefa). Any woman in the story, besides his mother-figure, was either beautiful or overtly sexual. Maybe some jokes were lost in translation (the original text is in French). I’m sad I couldn’t laugh more and feel good about it.
The Magician’s Nephew (The Chronicles of Narnia Book 1)
By C.S. Lewis
A boy and a girl become friends over a dreary summer. When the boy’s uncle manipulates them into a dangerous situation, the two must outsmart an evil witch and the boy’s hapless uncle. Through situations that test their character and their courage, the two friends play a hand in the future of Narnia.
So, most people have read this book when they were young. I missed it growing up. Too much time spent on the Boxcar Children series and not enough time reading the classics, I guess. But in any case, since this challenge was obviously inspired by the series, I decided to go to the original books and read them. Unfortunately, the wait for the ebooks is very long and this is the only book I’ve managed to borrow and read. The good news is that I found the second book in the series, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, in hardback and so I’m reading it with my 5 year old and 2.5 year old now. It’s great to share in these books and have it be new to all of us.
Next challenge: A Book that was Made into a Movie
Read along with us by picking your own book that fits into the category and sharing it with us on June 30.