A review by lisaortiz1221
Kapitoil by Teddy Wayne


this has got to be one of the most unique character pieces i’ve ever read! Karim’s idiosyncratic, techno-savvy character and his story will have you laughing out loud in Wayne’s excellent debut novel.

"Business manuals explain how valuable it is to have a sense of humor, so I am studying how others produce jokes, such as making a statement that is clearly the reverse of what you truly mean and using a tone of voice that indicates the reversal."

in the months leading up to the turn of the century, we follow our number crunching protagonist Karim Assar, a brilliant programmer from Qatar, as he relocates to New York City to help Schrub Equities through the Y2K transition. while there, he develops a program that will predict oil futures, which he aptly names “Kapitoil”, and he finds himself in the predicament of owning the rights to a program that could make a few people very, very rich. as the big boss starts pressuring him to sell the program and Karim continues to navigate through his own social awkwardness, we are taken on the capitalist education and social exploration that becomes Karim’s life.

the book is written through a series of Karim’s journal entries and always managed to make me laugh. the end of each entry has a list of new vocabulary words that he learned that day and was anything from slang to business terminology, but always entertaining and enlightening. Karim’s attempts to be social were always hilarious and his tendency to analyze everything made for both highly structured and entertaining reading that served as a brilliant satire on American capitalism.

one other thing that this book does extremely well is to balance the American lifestyle with the Muslim religion. Karim is a faithful Muslim, living in New York City, which obviously carries a lot of weight these days, and though his moral compass is not perfect, he serves to act as the balance between two colliding worlds.

this is one of those books that just thrums with a dry, witty energy that begs to be read and though it isn’t perfect, it is well worth the read. my only complaint was that Karim’s character made everyone else in the book seem rather two dimensional, particularly his boss and coworkers. but, really, altogether, this book was just too much fun to complain. highly recommended!