"The story begins in a public square in New Delhi. On a cold December evening a young European woman of noble descent appears before an Indian street artist known locally as PK and asks him to paint her portrait--it is an encounter that will change their lives irrevocably. PK was not born in the city. He grew up in a small remote village on the edge of the jungle in East India, and his childhood as an untouchable was one of crushing hardship. He was forced to sit outside the classroom during school, would watch classmates wash themselves if they came into contact with him, and had stones thrown at him when he approached the village temple. According to the priests, PK dirtied everything that was pure and holy. But had PK not been an untouchable, his life would have turned out very differently. This is the remarkable true story of how love and courage led PK to overcome extreme poverty, caste prejudice and adversity--as well as a 7,000-mile, adventure-filled journey across continents and cultures--to be with the woman he loved."--Publisher description.
I thought that I would have like to have the female character developed more and at the same time I got tired of reading the details of PK's life. I realize he is the main character but I wondered what it was about the woman that made him fall in love with her and go to such lengths to get to her.
I found this book to be funny, tragic and satisfying to read. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in Indian culture (middle class) and life.
Offers insight into the class structure in India and the class distinctions.
I would have liked more information about the woman and why he was so in love with her, as he hardly knew her; or his other motives for going to such ends to get to her.
The book itself wasn't too bad, but also not very exciting. The fact that it is based on a true story is very nice. However, it was more than halfway through the book before the main character (PK) actually started his travels on his bike (which he only used part of the way!) from India to Sweden. That was not what I expected from a book with the above title! Would I buy it? Probably not! Would I watch the movie? Probably!
Padyumna Kumar (known as PK) was born in a small village in India. His family were Dalits and this fact colored every day of his life, from school to worship to others' treatment of him in general. Despite the many, many road blocks placed in his path, PK was intelligent, artistic, and determined so he moved to New Delhi in search of a better life and perhaps also in search of the woman mentioned in the prophecy made when he was just a baby that declared he would marry a woman from far away, outside the country. Andersson tells of PK's life in the capital, occasionally veering from it to tell of a young Swedish girl, Lotta, who had a fascination with and a pull towards India. The bulk of the story, however, is not Lotta's life, it is PK's, which weaves in the injustice and inequity in the social system in India but also shows the incredible experiences and helping hands that PK found in progressive and friendly people as he eked out a living in New Delhi and as he eventually sets off on his bicycle to reunite with Lotta.
The book has a long, slow build-up that made it unfortunately easy to put aside in lieu of other reading. It also seems to be unable to decide if it is the story of a poor Dalit artist in a slowly changing India or a love story or a history or a travelogue. It has elements of all of these, leaving the book to feel unfocused and clumsy. Perhaps this is a function of the translation but I suspect not. This is a true story and should have all the nuance of a good non-fiction work but it doesn't really. PK is the best fleshed out while Lotta lacks the depth to be the real person she is and their love is presented as almost fait accompli simply because it's fated. It is supposed to be such a strong love that PK chooses to hop on his bicycle to find her many thousands of miles away and yet there's little given to the reader to actually show how that love came about. There is a lot of the book to get through before PK starts out on his crazy journey but the actual journey and his life in Sweden with Lotta are given fairly short shrift in the end. I don't know whether I wanted a more sweeping love story or a deeper history or a more detailed travelogue but that is perhaps the biggest problem with the book: it gives you just a tiny bit of each and none of them stand on their own as complete in the end.