Serious Men: A Novel
Author: Manu Joseph
W.W. Norton & Company
Paperback original, $14.95
A poignant, bitingly funny Indian satire and love story set in a scientific institute and in Mumbai’s humid tenements.
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 it’s strange workings and a hilarious portrayal of men’s runaway egos and ambitions.
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.