Book Review: ‘The Foreigner’ by Arun Joshi

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I have finished this novel last week and I want to say that I am positively surprised. I have to read this novel for my seminar at university which is about the Indian Author Arun Joshi. Unfortunately, he is not well-known in the West which is quite a pity since I really loved this novel. This novel is about love and friendship, about identity, and the meaningless of life.

More about the plot here from goodreads.

Plot: ‘The Foreigner’ is the story of a young man who is detached, almost estranged, a man who sees himself as a stranger, an alien wherever he goes or lives- in Kenya where he was born, in UK and USA where he was a student and in India where he finally settles down. His detachment transcends barriers of geography, nationality and culture. It propels him from one predicament to another, sucking in the wake several people, including June; an attractive American with whom he had a short lived but passionate affair.

This novel was quite easy to read, and it is also very thin. Only 192 pages, but these pages are filled with one of the best quotes I have ever read. It is said that this novel was immensely influenced by Camus’ ‘The Stranger’. I haven’t read that, although I always wanted to. I think I should buy a copy soon and read it.

The characters in this novel are quite diverse and most of them are round and have different facettes to them. They also seem to go through a development. I could identify perfectly with Sindi, since he is also a foreigner in a country he lives in, and also has asthm from which I suffer since my childhood as well. I think everyone can find a character with whom to identify with.

However, I have to warn you. This novel might be a light read, but it is not very cheerful. You should prepare to get into a gloomy mood while reading this, but it also causes a feeling of understanding for life and existence. The quotes are so appropriate, I constantly had to mark them :D

I can really encourage all of you to somehow get a copy of this novel and read it. The first part of this might be a bit hard, since the publisher, Orient Paperbacks refuses to send any copys to far countries. We also couldn’t buy them. The bookstores ordered them for a whole class, but they still refuse to send them off. I also tried on Amazon, but they only have a few books, and these are not in stock, and consequently not deliverable at the moment. So if you somehow happen to travel to India for some reason, or have a friend who goes there quite often, you should definitely order him/her to get a novel from Arun Joshi. The foreigner is already a quite popular novel by him. Atm I am reading ‘The strange case of Billy Biswas’, and according to my prof, that novel is even better. I am excited already.

Final rating – 5/5: A great story about existentialism with different characters and touching world wisdoms. A must-read for everyone, if foreigner or not.

 

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