cover image The Amazing Story of the Man Who Cycled From India to Europe for Love

The Amazing Story of the Man Who Cycled From India to Europe for Love

Per J. Andersson, trans. from the Swedish by Anna Holmwood. Oneworld (PGW, dist.), $19.99 trade paper (276p) ISBN 978-1-78607-033-3

Andersson, a cofounder of the Swedish travel magazine Vagabond, chronicles the life of an Indian man known as PK, an “untouchable” whose ambitions and accomplishments soar far beyond the confines set by the strict caste system into which he is born. At PK’s birth, a village astrologer predicts that he “will marry a girl from far, far away.” Andersson paints an intimate, authoritative picture of PK’s quest to fulfill this prophecy, often filled with sumptuous prose: on a hot day in New Delhi, “the asphalt” is “English toffee” under “lead-colored clouds.” When PK does encounter Lotta, who has left her native Sweden to travel the world, readers immediately recognize the woman from the prophecy. This is not a work of suspense, though PK’s poverty, occasional homelessness, and suicide attempts provide moments of tension; rather, it is a romance, a travelogue, and a cultural critique. PK’s determination fuels the tale: he leaves his boyhood in the jungle to become a “famous painter” who undertakes a bicycle trip to Sweden after he meets Lotta. As Andersson writes, PK begins his journey “on two wheels, powered by grit, tenacity, and... love.” This determination is more than enough to keep readers enthralled. (Mar.)