John Murray, £7.99 (406pp) from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
Serious Men, By Manu Joseph
Friday 04 March 2011
One of the strongest debuts of 2010, this bittersweet Mumbai tale of high minds and low plots never quite won the plaudits it deserves. Now – with a more populist, even Slumdog Millionaire-ish cover - it has a second chance.
More Lucky Jim than White Tiger, Joseph's novel follows Ayyan, a low-caste drudge at the scientific Institute, that noble "asylum for great minds".
He schemes a stellar future for himself and 10-year-old son Adi (A Brief History of Time? "I don't like it"). Harassed star-gazer Arvind listens to Pavarotti while solving the "remaining mysteries of the universe" such as extraterrestrial life...
Touching, hilarious, this collision between the Mumbai of stars and of mud rediscovers a deep Indian vein of humane and sophisticated comedy.
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