Serious Men

Manu Joseph, Author
Manu Joseph, Norton, $14.95 paper (336p) ISBN 978-0-393-33859-1
Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-4434-0037-4
Hardcover - 310 pages - 978-1-55468-670-4
Hardcover - 310 pages - 978-1-84854-312-6
Open Ebook - 978-0-393-33953-6
Hardcover - 310 pages - 978-1-55468-671-1
Hardcover - 424 pages - 978-1-4448-0750-9
Paperback - 406 pages - 978-1-84854-308-9
Hardcover - 1 pages - 978-1-84854-307-2
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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.)
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