ISBN: 0140297782 Global Overview for this book
3 journalers for this copy...
Reserved for Evablue for a trade
The book revolves around Archie and Samad, an Englishman and a Bangladeshi respectively, who are in the same tank unit in World War II. The circumstances they experience bond them for life. So when Samad decides to look for a better life in England he finds his old friend and resumes the relationship. Archie and Samad are portrayed as a comic duet – like Laurel and Hardy or Vladimir and Estragon. Archie is a level headed working class man who leads his life at random, making his decisions at the flip of a coin and sticking to them; rather the Stan Laurel type, naïve and simple in his needs. Samad on the other hand is an intellectual – a University graduate who speaks “the Queens English” better than the English do, knows (or adapts to his needs) his history, aspires for a better life but gets stuck in a dead end job as a waiter. He has one foot in the old country and one foot in the new, feels guilty for not preserving his heritage, for being absorbed by the current state and keeps wondering what his life would be like had he remained in the old country. While life is complicated for Samad, it’s even worse for his identical twin sons, Magid and Millat and Archie’s half-caste daughter Irie. As if growing up weren’t hard enough, they find themselves entangled in their parents’ scruples and struggle for identity. To my opinion, the part about Irie’s hope to find a place where she’d belong is the one that rings truest in the book. However, the approach is somewhat superficial as well – we don’t find out what she really thinks and what feelings trigger her actions. There’s also lots of colourful minor characters who do not really enhance the main plot. Smith is trying to weave them all into a complicated web but she is no Marquez and has to succumb to a “deus ex machina” ending that solves nothing at all.
So, is there anything good about the book? Yes. The dialogue! Each of her characters has a unique voice. The verve of her language keeps the reader going right to the end. A few original punch lines that had me laughing out loud. And a good account of life in multi-cultural Britain.
To sum it up, I think it's a fun read that can get you to start thinking about some of the topics introduced (but not quite revealed).
Mailed to Shroffland, since it was her choice from the Intercultural Virtual Book box. This is a truly intercultural book. Hope you enjoy it!
Thank you, EvaBlue for sending it! This book's travels reflects its Intercultural theme.