This was the book club selection for May. It was the National Book Award winner in 2012. It’s generally a reflection of the author’s take on the devastating effect of the recession on American business and workers.
Alan Clay and his company, Reliant, are in Saudi Arabia to give a presentation of their IT experience to set up the technological footprint for a brand new proposed model village, including a hologram to present to the king.
Clay has a history of failed start up businesses and this project doesn’t seem to take off very hopefully either. Delay after delay prolongs the book as Clay and his team are rebuffed and ignored as they try to work up their presentation to be given to the king. But they have been assigned to work in a big sweltering tent with no wifi connections. Rather discouraging–and the Chinese are also in the running to get the assignment . . .
I found little to recommend reading the book for enjoyment–perhaps a more
philosophical viewpoint would be more forgiving, but I didn’t like Clay nor what he represented. A saving grace of a character was Yeosuf, the native driver who seemed to have more of a practical outlook on life.
There are 312 pages and I read the book in drafts of 50 pages. The first batch went well because Clay is a big joke teller and they were funny, but an author can’t rely on jokes to fill up a book of that size and seriousness of purpose.
Read it to see if you agree with the award (!) but most of the book club found that the movie, with Tom Hanks, was a much better portrayal. Suit yourself, but for me, it was “Pas pour moi!” Next month’s selection is The Racketeer by
John Grisham–that’ll be a page turner!