When an Italian tells a joke disparaging the Italians, is it less insulting – or just insensitive and ignorant? Although Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project is a humorous romantic tale, the underlying ridicule of someone with Asperger’s syndrome is hard to ignore. If you can dismiss the main character’s social ineptness as the idiosyncracies of the stereotypical professor nerd, you might enjoy the ridiculous situations and laugh at the literal comments. If you can appreciate the happy ending as hope for those who suffer being different, you might bask in the possibilities for improved relationships. If you can forget the author’s references to autism, you might see awkward actions as charming.
Gabriel Roth in his New York Times Review – Without a Cue – notes:
“It’s cheering to read about, and root for, a romantic hero with a developmental disorder…Simsion’s debut and a best seller in his native Australia, reminds us that people who are neurologically atypical have many of the same concerns as the rest of us: companionship, ethics, alcohol…The ultimate convention of romantic comedy is that love conquers all, but to propose that it can so easily mitigate such a painful condition may be to take convention too far.”
Although I laughed at times at Don’s misadventures as he searches for the perfect mate and finds one in the imperfect Rosie, I felt uncomfortable doing so.