I am of two minds about this book. On the one hand I was drawn to the characters despite the fact that I didnt really care for them all that much (with the exception of Archie who seemed like a composite of every lovable but clueless person I have ever known.) The others grew more annoying with each passing page. Nevertheless I kept right on reading despite the novels convoluted plot lines which twisted back and forth between the present and the past in an annoyingly haphazard way. That said, I felt Smith did a credible job of creating a cast of intriguing (never mind the fact that I didnt like them) characters caught up in the tension of trying to figure out how to preserve remnants of a cultural heritage that seemed to be slipping away. While this book has been hailed as being uproariously funny I have to say that I was a bit put off by Smiths use of humor as a means for dealing with much of what gave the book its real drama. The best example is the opening sequence, where Archies attempted suicide is treated as if its one big joke. Treating something as serious as suicide as if its something to laugh about was very offensive to me. I was tempted to put the book down at that point, but decided to give it another try in view of the fact that it had won so many prizes something I cant say I feel is all that deserved.