Paperback Original [penguin/putnam] is a sardonic, original and clever first novel by Will Rhode. It’s a story of intrigue, drug-smuggling, dreams, sex and romance, bamboozling the mob(s) and ultimately finding oneself as the star of a life imagined.
While slumming it in India, twenty-something Brit, Joshua King, learns that his father has committed suicide and his five million pounds inheritance will only be passed onto him if he writes a best-selling novel. As he considers the possibility (and fumes in rage over it), he tries to fake his way into a journalism career, dodge the ruthless Indian police, use and sell smack, tutor English to the untouchables under a bridge and, along with his hot and cold femme fatale, he hustles fake diamonds and counterfeit money with Bollywood titans and porn stars, in pursuit of the ultimate heist –and maybe a good story.
Dipping back and forth into his dreams and memories, Paperback Original is written so much in the head of our unlikely hero that it’s hard to believe he’s not actually Will Rhode, and harder still to put down. This book is the best thing you’ll read this summer, and possibly this year.