What exactly is the "Festival of Taang LÃ´ke Kwaam Banterng Sumitchanani"? It's a 24-hour water balloon blitzkrieg, a ruthless talent competition, and an earth-scorching, take-no-prisoners bacchanalia. It's the one day of the year when everyone has a shot at finding true loveâ€”even a rapacious, over-sexed turtle god. It's a celebration of hobos and heartbreak, Lionel Richie impersonators and banana-brandy-flavored rice wine. It's The Festival of Earthly Delights.
Boyd Darrow is a young American living in Puchai, a tiny Southeast Asian country that tourist brochures refer to as "The Kingdom of Winks." In a series of letters written to a mysterious recipient, Boyd tells of the delights, humiliations and brain-bending misadventures he experiences while adjusting to life in the small college town of Mai Mor. He and his somewhat less-than-faithful girlfriend, Ulla, were hoping to start their lives over in Puchai, but Puchai has an agenda all its own.
Ulla's been hired to organize the talent show at the town's annual "Festival of Taang," but she seems more interested in the possibilities of cultural exchange with a local revolutionary. Meanwhile, Boyd grapples with a culture in which baby owls are considered a delicacy, turtles are worshipped as deities, and a wink can have one of 379 possible meanings (including "You're fired," "There's something in my eye," and "I want to kiss your lips!"). He's also falling for his boss's daughter, a half-Puchanese girl with a black eye and a troubling past. Lines are crossed, secrets are revealed, and, as Boyd's life inevitably spins out of control, the Festival draws closer with each day...
Hilarious and wise and fiercely original, The Festival of Earthly Delights is a no-holds-barred celebration of love, cultural differences, and one man's reluctant embrace of the sensual pleasures of this world, in all their awkward, enigmatic glory.
Praise for The Festival of Earthly Delights
"If Puchai were a real country, I'd be a citizen by now, or at least an illegal alien. What a glorious novel!" â€”Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story
"Matt Dojny's novel is a true delight. I can't think of any writer since Kingsley Amis who's been able to write high-minded comedy that packs such a punch. I've never enjoyed a comic novel more." â€”John Wray, author of Lowboy
"Matt Dojny's narrator Boyd Darrow is as poetically drawn as J.D. Salinger's Holden Caulfield, and as intimately hilarious as C.D. Payne's Nick Twisp. Dojny has created an entire country filled with characters that are so fresh and endearing, you'll find yourself wishing Puchai were a real place. I love this book." â€”Kristen Schaal (Flight of the Conchords, The Daily Show)
"Comic novels can be whimsical, or clever, or delightful, or witty, or canny, or powerful. Rarely are they all of those things. Matt Dojny's large-hearted, bright-minded novel has drawings and letters and love and loss, and now you do, too." â€”Ben Greenman, author ofWhat He's Poised to Do and Superbad