Five words from the blurb: India, satire, world, problems, society
The Book of Answers is a clever satire of society. It shows how willing people are to look for the easy answer to their problems and how politicians can be made to believe anything if it helps their career.
The book begins with Patros, an ordinary Indian man, inheriting a mysterious metal box. This box is said to hold a book containing answers to all the world’s problems. The responsibility of owning this object becomes too much for Patros so he sells it, only to see it turn up in the hands of a godman a few months later. This godman soon finds himself advising the top politicians in the land. The only problem is that Patros knows the key to the box is hidden in Kerala, so the godman must be inventing every one of his ideas.
I often struggle with political satire, especially ones that originate from other countries, because I don’t know enough about the political parties involved. This wasn’t the case for The Book of Answers and I think this is because it can be seen as a parody of governments in general, rather than of a specific regime. The blind faith that officials put in their advisers can also be seen in many large companies and so I think this book will appeal to people whether they have an interest in politics or not.
The main joy of this book is the large number of cleverly formed ideas. In many ways it reminded me of The Fat Years by Chan Koonchung, a book containing many ideas that sound ridiculous, but turn out to have happened already. I don’t think that any of ideas in The Book of Answers have been implemented yet, but it wouldn’t surprise me if some of the less controversial ones were debated in the next few years.
Sometimes the jokes were quite subtle and I’m sure this book would benefit from a re-read to pick up on everything.
This book wasn’t perfect – it lost some of its narrative drive in the middle and could have done with some editing to make the transition between some of the scenes smoother, but on the whole it was an enjoyable, entertaining read.
Recommended to anyone looking for something a little bit different!
The thoughts of other bloggers:
…a thoroughly readable and thought-provoking book. Eleutherophobia
Behind the humour, there is a very serious message about the nature of power corrupting and the inability of democracy…. Tony’s Reading List