If cynicism is what passes for wisdom among the mediocre, Manu Joseph is terrific at being mediocre. India has found its Tom Wolfe in him. Joseph is a contemporary master of satire who writes eminently readable novels about losers who make bitingly funny observations about an inquitous world built and inherited by the accidental victors of history. He is unsparing and delightful in his politically incorrect barbs and no one escapes his scrutiny, not even the poor, whom Indian writers usually describe with a touch of obligatory compassion. His humour derives its force from a strange truth. That everything becomes absurd if observed closely enough, like a word loses its meaning if you stare at it long and hard, and breaks down into the assemblage of letters it is. Basically, if there’s one Indian writer whom I’d gladly have a drink with, it’s Manu Joseph.
Serious Men covers diverse ground in its 300-odd pages: caste in urban India, the scientific pursuit of truth, politics in academia, the exhilaration of illicit love, and of course, the bloodless war of the Brahmins. I won’t spoil it any further. You must discover it for yourself.