Synopses & Reviews
Ayyan Mani will not be constrained by Indian traditions. Despite working at the Institute of Theory and Research in Mumbai as the lowly personal assistant to a brilliant but insufferable astronomer, he dreams of more for himself and his family. Ever wily and ambitious, Ayyan weaves two plots: the first to cheer up his weary, soap-opera-addicted wife by creating outrageous fictions around their ten-year-old son; the other to sabotage the married director by using his boss's seeming romance with the institute's first female--and very attractive--researcher. Meanwhile, as the institute's Brahmins wage a vicious war over theories about alien life, Ayyan sees his deceptions intertwining and setting in motion a series of extraordinary events he cannot stop. Unfailingly funny and irreverent, is at once a hilarious portrayal of runaway egos and ambitions and a moving portrait of love and its strange workings. One of 2010's "First Novels to Savor." --
"Joseph, an editor of magazines in India, sets up in his debut a subtly wicked satire of subterfuge and ambition that bounces between the Mumbai tenement where low-caste Ayyan Mani lives, and the esteemed research institute where he labors as the assistant of top researcher Arvind Acharya. Forever spiteful toward his privileged superiors, Ayyan is deviously mischievous and pulls off a stunt that ends with his half-deaf (but otherwise ordinary) son being proclaimed in the local news as a boy genius. Meanwhile, Arvind is obsessed with proving his theory that extraterrestrial microbes are raining down on Earth from the upper atmosphere. While his theory is promising, an affair with a seductive astrobiologist threatens to cost him his life's work. Naturally, the conniving Ayyan is involved there as well. While Ayyan's inspired smalltime villainy drives the narrative and provides more than its share of humor, it's occasionally undermined by overheated prose and uneven pacing that spirals into a panicked blitz near the end. Overall, though, this is a sharp, au courant satire, like a more mannered White Tiger. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
" goes beyond genre. It is indeed satirical but foremost, it is an amazingly accurate depiction of reality. Joseph is an acute, sensitive observer and his writing accumulates the myriad circumstantial details of everyday life which makes it real. ... It's been a very good year for South Asian English novels and could be the pick of the crop." Pratik Kanjilal
"Manu Joseph's first novel elegantly describes collisions with an unyielding status quo, ably counterpointing the frustrations of the powerless with the unfulfilling realities of power. With this astute comedy of manners he makes a convincing bid for his own recognition as a novelist of serious talent, the latest addition to a roster of Indian writers who are creating fine literary art from their country's fearsome contradictions." Hindustan Times
"Manu Joseph's satirical tale of an ostensibly new India still in thrall to its caste-ridden and sexist traditions is so much more than a mere comic caper." Peter Carty The Independent
Ayyan Mani, one of the thousands of dalit(untouchable caste) men trapped in Mumbai"s slums, works in the Institute of Theory and Research as the lowly assistant to the director, a brilliant self-assured astronomer. Ever wily and ambitious, Ayyan weaves two plots, one involving his knowledge of an illicit romance between his married boss and the institute"s first female researcher, and another concerning his young son and his soap-opera-addicted wife. Ayyan quickly finds his deceptions growing intertwined, even as the Brahmin scientists wage war over the question of aliens in outer space. In his debut novel, Manu Joseph expertly picks apart the dynamics of this complex world, offering humorous takes on proselytizing nuns and chronicling the vanquished director serving as guru to his former colleagues. This is at once a moving portrait of love and its strange workings and a hilarious portrayal of men"s runaway egos and ambitions.
Ever wily and ambitious, Ayyan weaves two plots: the first to cheer up his weary, soap-opera-addicted wife by creating outrageous fictions around their ten-year-old son; the other to sabotage the married director by using his boss s seeming romance with the institute s first female and very attractive researcher. Meanwhile, as the institute s Brahmins wage a vicious war over theories about alien life, Ayyan sees his deceptions intertwining and setting in motion a series of extraordinary events he cannot stop. Unfailingly funny and irreverent, Serious Men is at once a hilarious portrayal of runaway egos and ambitions and a moving portrait of love and its strange workings. One of 2010 s First Novels to Savor. Sunday Telegraph"
A poignant, bitingly funny Indian satire and love story set in a scientific institute and in Mumbai's humid tenements.
About the Author
Manu Joseph is the deputy editor of the new Indian magazine Open. The former features editor of The Times of India, he was voted “India’s Most Stylish Writer” and short-listed for Society Magazine’s Young Achiever Award. His novel Serious Men will be published in eight countries.