Published by Harvill Secker
When it was published in France, his home country, last year, this debut novel from Romain Puertolas became a bestseller. He wrote it on his mobile phone while working as a border guard.
It tells the story of Ajatashatru, a fakir (a magical man), who lives in a remote village in India and needs a new bed of nails. He persuades his friends and followers to pay for a flight to his nearest Ikea, in Paris, to buy a one.
After falling for a beautiful woman called Marie, he spends the night living it up in the store and hides from the night guards in a wardrobe, which is then loaded onto a lorry and shipped to England.
He ends up travelling around Europe and north Africa by plane, ship, trunk and hot-air balloon, making friends – and enemies – along the way.
On one level, this is a standard picaresque tale of a con man living by his wits, but beneath the humour and farce is a more profound examination of poverty and immigration, of traffickers and the lengths desperate people will go to for a better life.
Moved by the characters he meets, Ajatashatru vows to change his ways and make amends, but will he?