SEX, LIES, AND ROCKY ROADS...
Life is simple for Champa. He has a good job as a chauffeur in his hometown of Lhasa, and if his Chinese boss Plum is a little domineering, well, he can understand that - she's a serious art-collector after all. And he does get to drive her huge Toyota.
When he starts to sleep with his boss, life becomes a whole lot more complicated. Suddenly Champa's sex life is beyond his wildest dreams.
But then Plum brings home a Tara statue - a statue that shines with exquisite feminine beauty - and suddenly life is not simple at all, as Champa finds himself on the long road to Beijing in search of its inspiration.
"The Unbearable Dreamworld Of Champa The Driver" is a rollicking road novel brim-ful of sensuality and danger. Underlying the optimism and humour of its hero is a shocking picture of racism and rough justice in modern Beijing.
I was really looking forward to reading this as I have travelled through Tibet and China and thought it would perhaps give me some interesting insight into how Tibet and China have changed over the years.
Sadly this book was lacking in any depth and although there were a few moments of cultural interest for the most part this was a very difficult to read story of Champa's obsession with his genitals and with having sex even if it was against his partners will. The story lacked any clear direction aside from Champa giving up what was clearly a very good life with Plum his boss in Lhasa who he chauffeured to chase after her daughter having spoken all of a few sentences to her to chase her to Beijing where he wanted to start a new life.
Told in the first person I certainly felt no connection with Champa's character. I am not sure if much of the authors intent was lost in translation or if there really was a lack of structure and depth in the original story. There were moments when I thought the story would get good such as when the cars crash on a deserted stretch of highway or there was discussion about immolation by Tibetans but for the most part I had to force myself to read this novel and I did not enjoy a minute of it.
I am not sure if this is really how life is for a Tibetan but Champa certainly seemed to have a level of naivety regarding abandoning his whole life for a random encounter with his bosses daughter without any understanding of the consequences. The story jumped around so much that it didn't seem at all real though I imagine the issues were such as animal rights activists saving dogs, people being held and abused in detention without legal recourse, self immolation etc.
I can't really recommend this and it won't be finding a home on my book shelf.
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