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

ikeaThe plot of The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who Got Trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe by Romain Puertolas is just as ridiculous as the title, but is very entertaining.

First things first. I didn’t know what a ‘fakir’ was, so off I went to Google to find out. (Any excuse will do, really). There are a number of definitions for fakirs, who, as it turns out, are holy men who perform feats of magic or endurance, or itinerant Hindu wonderworkers. In this novel the main character is an Indian Fakir, Ajatashatru, who is more of a ‘Faker.’

Ajatashatru’s village raised the money to send him to Paris, to buy a bed of nails for himself from Ikea. (I Googled Ikea to check if they sell beds of nails, not that I actually want one, I was just interested, but this product is not actually in their catalogue). Anyway, Ajatashatru arrives in Paris with a fake 100 Euro note, printed on one side only, which he uses to swindle a gypsy taxi driver out of the fare to Ikea, which is funny, since the taxi driver was also attempting to cheat Ajatashatru by taking him to the furthest Ikea in Paris.

When Ajatashatru arrives at Ikea, he learns that the bed of nails he wants is 120 Euros, so he then scams a Frenchwoman in the cafeteria line to get the extra money he needs. Ajatashatru also gets her phone number.

Without enough money to get a hotel room for the night, Ajatashatru decides to make himself comfortable in Ikea overnight. And while we’re on the subject, who amongst us hasn’t imagined being locked in Ikea overnight? Thought so. Me too. I would fill up on Daim bars before making myself comfortable in one of those tiny little homes until I was freed.

Ajatashatru was enjoying his evening in his choice, a dinky little Ikea lounge room, until a group of Ikea employees returned after hours to move the furniture around. As the title suggests, Ajatashatru hid in a wardrobe, and at this point, the story went from ridiculous to ridiculouser. (You can Google ‘ridiculouser’ if you like, but it isn’t a real word. I like it though). When Ajatashatru escapes from the wardrobe, he finds the wardrobe with him in it, in the back of a truck bound for England with a group of illegal Sudanese immigrants. They are all caught entering England and deported to Spain.

At the airport in Barcelona, Ajatashatru runs into the gypsy taxi driver he swindled in Paris, and ends up hiding in another wardrobe to escape him, only to find himself en route to Rome after emerging from the second wardrobe.

And so the story continues, with Ajatashatru randomly travelling around the world. There are serious messages about illegal immigration, and Ajatashatru’s morals do get the better of him eventually, but this book is pure slapstick. I liked the story of The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who Got Trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe, but if farce doesn’t make you laugh, flip through the Ikea catalogue instead. I’m sure you can Google it.



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