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Are You Experienced? Paperback – 4 Jun 1998

88 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (4 Jun. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140272658
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140272659
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 1.6 x 18.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 160,165 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

For anyone with the slightest curiosity about travelling, or even if you've been, William Sutcliffe's tremendously funny Are You Experienced? will have you in stitches. The protagonist is Dave, a 19-year-old Londoner on a gap year before starting university. He had no intention of leaving Europe, until his best mate James, who's about to go on a trek through the Himalayas, challenges him. "Do you want to learn Fwench David? Something pwactical for your CV?" he taunts when he hears Dave is going to be a waiter at a Swiss ski resort.

Admitting his fears, ("Suffering, danger and poverty are all fine by me, but dirt and disease are two things I happen to hate") Dave is determined to prove he's not a coward and accepts an invitation to go to India with James's girlfriend Liz (in anticipation of consummating their burgeoning relationship). But by the time they get on the plane it all goes downhill. Bickering constantly, their adaption to India couldn't be more different. Liz embraces it--hugging beggars and wearing saris, while Dave's dry-humoured rants, scepticism and fear of the unknown eventually drive her away in search of her "centre".

The characters the pair meet along the way draw upon all the old hippy-traveller stereotypes, but there's also a few new ones in keeping with the times. There's Ranj--a British-born Indian who hates Indians; Jez--a public-school-educated undergraduate whose travels are being funded by daddy; and Caz and Fee who experience the side-effects of "Intimate Yoga".

While this story is ultimately a funny piece of fiction, it also addresses more serious considerations, such as cultural stereotypes, peer pressures and making life-changing decisions.

This book is irresistible and seasoned travellers will empathise with the situations Dave finds himself in, (his graphic description of a bout of Dehli-belly is guaranteed to make you feel sorry for him, and nauseous too). Be prepared to laugh out loud. --Angela Boodoo

About the Author

William Sutcliffe was born in London in 1971, and was educated at Cambridge. His first novel NEW BOY was published to enthusiastic reviews and a large amount of publicity in spring 1996.

He lives in London, N4.


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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 19 July 1999
Format: Paperback
'Lonely Planet', eat your heart out! If there is one book to sum up travelling the Indian sub-continent, it is this. Coupled with a compelling story of one mans struggle with the woman in his life, this novel exceeds all the 'travel novel' limits, previously set by 'The Beach'. Having travelled the same region as Dave did in the book, I find his descriptions and feelings uncannily accurate. He ridicules the attitude of the self-congratulatory 18-year-old who have taken a year out (to 'find' themselves), and the 'getting at one with his karma' hippy-traveller with true humour. It is refreshing to read a book that is lighthearted but compelling reading. This man had done his research! If you are ever considering travelling East, then this is the book to read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 9 July 1999
Format: Paperback
Have you ever sat there and wondered which book was so funny that it was making the guy on the tube, four places down from you, laugh so incongruously? It might well have been William Sutcliffe's "are you experienced?".
Dave and Liz (Dave's sort-of-best-mate's girlfriend) set off to India for an authentic, alternative, holistic experience. Dave already knows that he fancies Liz, but has not, as yet, realised that he also hates her. Liz is searching for inner peace; Dave is searching for a piece of Liz. Dave is cynical, apprehensive and naïve; Liz is eager, flirtatious and naïve. Sutcliffe is funny, very funny.
Through choice characters and sharp dialogue the reader is taken on a whistle stop tour of India's hippie trail and shown a few polarised snaps of the workings of the not-quite-twenty-something's mind along the way.
Given the subject matter, one would have been forgiven for assuming that, to fully appreciate the satire, one would need to have had some such "travelling" experience oneself. This is not the case. If you've never been travelling yourself, you will doubtless know someone who has. As Sutcliffe stresses, travelling is no longer the reserve of the adventurous or the alternative, is has now become almost a prerequisite to university admission for the middle classes from England's leafy Home Counties. Backpacking has now become as institutionalised as any Public school, or packaged holiday to Ibiza.
Short, witty and observant, this is a book you will not put down. If you like to be inconspicuous, do not read this book in public.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gerben Kappert on 23 Nov. 2003
Format: Paperback
According to a review this book is a parody on backpack tourism, though chosen by backpackers as a cult book. As I used to be part of that group I had to read the book. And I have to admit it was fun to read. I had to get past my own cynical view before I could get myself to read someone else's remarks. Luckily I hadn't been to India, where this book takes place, so I started it with an open mind. It was easy to read, compliment for the author, very recognisable in lots of events, interesting in other moments.
Just don't expect this book to be a masterpiece and you'll certainly enjoy the view of Sutcliffe, who, I'm fairly sure, is the main character Dave in the book. Dave has one motivation for travelling through India: getting into the knickers of his companion of this trip Liz. I've heard worse excuses for travelling, but it does give you a bit of an idea about this book. So while Liz is really doing India like backpackers should (according to themselves), sniffing local culture, learning about the ancient wisdom and different religions, Dave is just curious about everybody around him and their reasons to travel. This is not easy with the heat, the poverty, the food and other tourists to make his world into a hell.
All in all a very entertaining book, not the classic the cover promised it to be, but certainly worth reading.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Smurfy on 23 Jun. 2009
Format: Paperback
As someone who never felt any great desire to camp out in a mud hut in Bangalore with raging dysentery because 'it's an expeeeeeerience!', this book raised many a smile for me. The plot centres around immature gap year student Dave, who would in reality prefer a two-week booze-up in Benidorm than three months backpacking in India, but who a) feels he 'should' go travelling and b) is desperate to sleep with his travelling companion Liz. All the worst examples of home county hippie appear here; the privileged (and supremely irritating) Liz is desperate to be sensitive to her surroundings and begins using 'Western' as an insult, while the achingly politically correct, 'at one with India' J is soon exposed as rich kid Jeremy, whose right-on travel experience is actually funded by his wealthy parents. These and other similarly cringeworthy characters are very well drawn, and their utter dependence on the advice of the Lonely Planet guide is sure to raise a wry grin in many readers (if dating the novel firmly in the late nineties). There are many funny moments and lines, some to a laugh-out-loud point. This is an ideal book for aeroplane or poolside reading (or even cholera-infested swamp if you're going to follow Dave's trail). However, ultimately it is destined to be a novel liked by many but loved by few, purely because none of the characters are likeable enough to make a long-term impact. These are people to laugh at, not laugh with. So if you're expecting a serious investigation of the 'expeeeeerience' of travelling around India, prepare to be disappointed. If you're looking for a book to make you smile and pass the time on the train, this isn't a bad choice at all.
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