Serious Men, by Manu Joseph was one of the most interesting novels I have read. Just when I finished the book, couple of months back, his second book got released. My friend, Nirnaya, gifted me the book “Illicit happiness of other people”, last week and I finished reading it today.
Set in 1990 Madras, the story is about the quest of a journalist, Ousep Chacko, in search of the reason to his cartoonist son’s (Unni Chacko) suicide. A major section of the book deals with Ouesep’s attempts to untangle the riddle named Unni (and his death), through his friends and cartoons. After all the Holmsian thrills, the story ends with an amazing twist.
The book is very entertaining with hilarious random events, crazy characters, funny but thought provoking ideas and events that you can relate to. Manu Joseph draws the picture of 1990 Madras fantastically. The irreverence towards religion is presented in such a humorous way that even my deacon roommate finds it funny. An excerpt from the book goes like this
The strongest booze in the world is found in Kerala. It is called “Missiyah” (Jesus Christ). You’ll rise only on the third day!
One interesting thing I noticed about the story is its similarity with the malayalam movie Kadhavasheshan. The main plot of a curious person trying to figure out the mystery of a suicide is the same. I even think that one can draw some parallels between the way people discuss about the dead friend(in the movie and the book). Unni (from the book) and Gopinath Menon(from the movie) are similar in a way. Both of them are different from the rest of their types. Gopinath Menon is touched by human suffering and Unni by human behavior! Anyways, the similarity with the movie has not diminished my reading experience with the book. I will definitely recommend this book (And his first book, Serious Men).