Previously the editor of OPEN magazine, Manu Joseph is not only a journalist but also a writer. He has penned 2 books till date, Serious Men and Illicit Happiness of Other people. He has claimed a lot of applause for both his books. He is a winner of many well-known awards not only from India but also from across the globe. He has won The Hindu Literary Award in 2010 and PEN Open Book award in 2011, both for his book Serious Pen. Apart from that his book Serious Men, was shortlisted amongst the 10 best books of the year by Huffington Post. Manu Joseph was also shortlisted for Man Asian Literary Prize, Bollinger Everyman Woodhouse Prize and The Hindu Literary award in 2013. Manu Joseph is known for his satirical approach towards the society. He is sure to keep one hooked to his books. Both of his books are amongst one of the must reads. Here is why you should read Serious Men and The Illicit Happiness of Other People
1 Serious Men:
Serious Men, was the first book written by Manu Joseph which was published by Harper Collins. The book is about Ayyan Mani who was born to a dalit class and lives in a Chawl in Mumbai. Like every other common person living in the chawl, he has dreams to rise above the rest and earn so much money that he is able to move out of the chawl and have a house of his own. Ayyan, works in a Institute of Theory and Research and is an assistant to the Director of the Institute. Ayyan, is an intelligent and ambitious man. He knows how to get his work done.
The book revolves around him. In the book Ayyan gets trapped between 2 worlds. One is professional, where his boss is having an affair with the newly appointment researcher. The book is no doubt a satire on the Indian way of thinking and behaving. The males in the office react just the way the males in real life do, when they see a young and attractive women working in their surroundings. The director of the Institute is not a very well loved man. The affair between him and the newly appointed female researchers take a huge turn, to which Ayyan is a silent watcher. The story proceeds in such a way that it showcases Ayyan’s intelligence and wit.
In the second sphere of his life, which is Domestic is no less than a mess. At home he has a wife and a son. His wife, like all the other women in the chawl is addicted to the soap operas. But Ayyan’s son is the real deal. He is different from the other kids his age. Ayyan Mani makes a game up with his son which in turn leads to secrets, which annoys Ayyan’s wife. And one of the secrets which Ayyan and his son have, he has a huge price to pay for that.
Manu Joseph is an amazing writer. The way his story progresses, keeps one gripped on to the book. The book is no doubt full of twists and turns. It is that sort of book, which would make you want more but at the end when it is finished, it would leave you with so many emotions and so many thoughts. The book is undoubtedly one of the best written English books by Indian Authors and is a must read.
2 The Illicit Happiness of Other People:
Published in 2012, The Illicit Happiness of Other People by Manu Joseph is said to be semi-autobiographical. The book is about Ousep Chacko, a south Indian, who is a journalist and also a failed novelist. Ousep thinks of himself to be ‘one of the last real men’. Ousep is no doubt married and has two sons. The book begins with Ousep going to a meeting of comic artists. The basic structure of the book is about Ousep, who is trying to find the answer of the death of his elder son Unni Chacko.
Unni, a seventeen year old boy and also a well-known comic artist falls from his balcony one fine day. Which makes the whole family wonder, whether it was an accident or Unni did it with his own will. Unni was a bright and happy boy who never showed any signs of Suicidal tendencies. But his death leads to many unanswered questions, to which his father Ousep tries to find an answer to. Ousep no doubt fails at many events. Meanwhile, his wife Marianna plans his murder. And the whole family is a little poor.
The book showcases the trend of the compulsion for men to go to ‘engineering college’. The book has dark humor to it. Most of the time, one just like Ousep keeps wondering why did Unni do so. One also begins to love Unni’s character. As the story advances and slowly one finds out what Unni had been upto just a few days before his death, things start to clear up only a bit. But the ending is what leaves one in a state of shock. The ending is rather heart breaking. But that should not stop anyone from reading this book, as it has an extremely deep meaning attached to it just like Manu Joseph’s previous book.