Friday, May 9, 2014

Waiting For The Man - Arjun Basu - Review AND Giveaway

Waiting for the Man is Arjun Basu's debut novel.

Joe is a New York copywriter. He's good at his job, fairly happy and his success has brought him material wealth. Until he starts daydreaming in meetings, floating away from the boardroom and watching himself from above. And then he starts dreaming at night as well. Dreaming of the Man. The Man who tells him to wait. To wait for him. "He had created a need I didn't know I had."

And Joe does just that. He sits on the stoop of his building day and night - waiting for further instructions. Others of course worry and wonder about him. Who is the Man? What has he said to Joe?  And without trying or wanting, Joe becomes news. Small at first, then growing exponentially.

Basu easily conveys Joe's sense of dissatisfaction and disillusionment. When I started Waiting For The Man, I could only read a few chapters at a time. Basu provides much food for thought through Joe's ruminations on society, life, familial relationships, the media, religion and much more. It's impossible to read some passages without stopping and looking at them in relation to your own life and circumstances.

But as I continued to read, I became caught up in Joe's waiting. I felt like one of the public, hooked on Joe's story, just waiting for the latest reports form the media crew following his every move.

I was initially confused when the book's narrative abruptly switched time and place in the first few chapters. And then I realized that we learn Joe's story from the beginning and the end in alternating chapters until all is revealed. Or is it? Do we ever find the answers or do we create them ourselves?

Interestingly, I found myself more caught up in the ideas that Joe presented, rather than Joe himself. I ended up feeling quite middle of the road about Joe, neither here nor there. For me, he was simply a vehicle for Basu's exploration of the search for meaning in our lives.

Basu has crafted an unsettling, thought provoking first novel, one sure to leave you taking a second look at many aspects of our society and our own lives. Read an excerpt of Waiting for the Man.

See what other bloggers on the ECW blog tour thought at: Words of Mystery, Buried in Print, A New Day,and bookgaga. And if you'd like to read Waiting For The Man, I have a copy to giveaway, courtesy of ECW Press. Simply leave a comment to be entered. US and Canada. Ends May 24/14.

"Arjun Basu is a writer and editor. In 2008, he published Squishy, a collection of short stories that was shortlisted for the ReLit Prize. His stories have been published in many literary journals, including Matrix and Joyland. He also writes 140-character short stories he calls Twisters on Twitter (@ArjunBasu), which have won him a Shorty Award, lots of press, and a worldwide following. Arjun lives in Montreal with his wife, son, and dog. You can find Arjun Basu on Facebook as well."


Buried In Print said...

I really enjoyed reading about your shifting response to Joe as you read the novel. It makes me wonder if, from another perspective, Joe could be The Man for us as readers; could we look and listen to him and wait to make sense of his journey, just as he watches and strains to hear the Man.

I like a book with so many layers that you can muse about it for a good long while after you've set it back on the shelf.

Mystica said...

I am still confused!

Dont count me in though (overseas)

Daniel Perry said...

I'm quite looking forward to this one - I recently read Basu's short story collection, Squishy, and thought it unfortunately under-celebrated... even for a Canadian small press book. The story "Johnson's Johnson" is a really funny comment on accelerated pop culture, centered around a baseball player whose uniform was a little too revealing on trading card photo day.

bn100 said...

Nice honest review

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

Unknown said...

Sounds like an interesting read. I would love an opportunity to read this book.

Anita Yancey said...

It sounds like an odd and unusual book, but also interesting at the same time. I would like a chance to read it. Thanks for having the giveaway.


Charlotte said...

Sounds like a good book.

Jyo said...

Great to see Arjun publish his first novel - have been a fan since his early Twisters and he was a big hit at Toronto's first Social Media Week. /Jyo