Review: Escape From Amsterdam- Barrie Sherwood
This isn’t the type of book I go for at all. The cover, the blurb and everything about it is just not something I would usually pick, and to be honest I only decided to read it because my creative writing tutor at uni wrote it so I was curious! However I found that Escape From Amsterdam is a very creative, thrilling and entertaining read, a novel that is different to what I am used to reading.
The protagonist is university student Aozora Fujiwara; idle, unambitious and lovelorn, who is in a huge amount of debt thanks to playing too much mah-jong. It’s a relief when his Auntie Okane dies, leaving him and his younger sister Mai a large inheritance and a solution for Aozora to pay off his debt. All he needs to do is find her, but that is when the real problems begin. From a frantic oyster fight in a restaurant to being disguised as a Red Indian, Aozora embarks on a crazy and impossible journey of finding his sister- all the while being pursued and threatened by thugs and Yakuza within Amsterdam and Japan itself. This eccentric novel is a fast-paced read, containing an interesting storyline and a lot of hilarity. However beneath the humour Sherwood’s writing sometimes adopts a dark and nihilistic tone, exploring the more serious topic of the conflict between authenticity and artificiality, and at its heart the effects of globalisation in modern day Japan.
What is also interesting about the novel is the illustrations the author has paired with his writing, including manga and photographs the main character has taken. I don’t really appreciate this sort of thing in a novel, but I thought it worked very well with this random, jumbled piece of prose.
A bizarre and totally unbelievable story crammed with high-tech love dolls, amusement parks and quirky characters, Escape From Amsterdam is a wonderfully fast paced and unpredictable read.
Do I recommend you to read it? Yes, it’s a crazy and entertaining read!
Genre: coming-of-age novel