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Serious Men

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  2,213 Ratings  ·  268 Reviews
Ayyan Mani will not be constrained by Indian traditions. Despite working at the Institute of Theory and Research in Mumbai as the lowly personal assistant to a brilliant but insufferable astronomer, he dreams of more for himself and his family.

Ever wily and ambitious, Ayyan weaves two plots: the first to cheer up his weary, soap-opera-addicted wife by creating outrageous f
Paperback, 310 pages
Published August 2nd 2010 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 2010)
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Rajat Ubhaykar
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, 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 ...more
Sep 13, 2015 Vani rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Manu Jospeh's 'Serious Men' presents a caricaturised sketch of the world of the geniuses as seen through the eyes of an ordinary man, at times a nobody, at other times the main protagonist of the story. As this man walks in and out of his day job, he cleverly observes these people, hating them for their superciliousness, leaving not a chance to poke fun at them (albeit most of this happens from the confines of his den). However, secretly, he also aspires to be like them for that is the only way ...more
Gorab Jain
May 03, 2016 Gorab Jain rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Gorab by: Arvind
Shelves: indian, 2016
What a lip smacking delicious book! Here's the recipe :
1. Take a wickedly genius lower class Dalit's story.
2. Add space scientists from ISRO. Sprinkle research science jargons.. and mock them up.
3. The usual spices - office politics, extra marital love affair, child prodigy.
4. Mix everything with keen observations gently. Ensure the story stays simple and linear.
5. Pour cold blooded rib tickling laughter generously. Treat with fumes of tear jerking laughing gas.
6. Ready! Now serve it in a super
Dec 20, 2010 Srinidhi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thank you, Manu Joseph, for this gem.

What tickled me the most about Manu Joseph's 'Serious Men' (apart from the humour of his witty and observant sarcasm), are two retrospective qualities (that i felt the book has after i finished it) - the amazing simplicity of the story and its complete plausibility. It is a powerfully written tale of a man (and a few serious men) that is not entirely impossible, and i almost secretly wished these men and that man existed already, that the story were true. Man
Sep 22, 2016 Meera rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Insane !
Jul 24, 2016 AlcoholBooksCinema rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, india
In the world that lay outside his home, there was no right or wrong. Every moment was a battle, and the cunning won.

After the book's release, Anil Luthra, Metro Editor from The Times of India had published what people said about this book.

Holy Shit. My job is in danger - Stephen Hawking

If I had a father like Ayyan Mani, I would've been a better person, avoided plagiarism, and co-founded something original. This book changed my perception towards life. - Bill Gates

I want to meet Ayyan Mani. I thi

Payal Das
Mar 30, 2014 Payal Das rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really feel that I should have read Serious Men first before going on to Manu Joseph's second book, The Illicit Happiness of Other People. Not to take anything away from Serious Men, which is an exceptional, and a very courageous debut at that, but Joseph's second book is a tour de force which takes you to an entirely different level of cherished literary hangover.
Serious Men is a work, where so many things happen at so many levels, so many issues are tackled or brought forward, that you tend
Apr 24, 2013 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: indian-novels
Comic and sharply witty novel which has so many targets in its sight that it can be rather confusing. Joseph does however hit many of the targets rather well.
Joseph targets the layering of Indian society; Brahmins and Dalits, education, marital relations, political corruption, particularly deliciously the scientific community and the search for extra-terrestial life (along with the future of physics)and the nature of love.
Ayyan Mani works in administration in a scientific institute where there a
Nov 30, 2010 Marie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book to be disappointing and sexist. Read my full review here:
Oct 04, 2015 Em rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A satirical look into the world of Indian science, bureaucracy, the age-old conflicts between the haves and havenots, and sort of a battle between the sexes. An engrossing first half with a not so bad second half .
Ayyan Mani, the Dalit clerk to the Brahmin scientists interpolated himself into all affairs of the Science and technology institute, where two Brahmin giants are battling out their opposing views about alien invasion. Oporna, the clever female scientist becomes crucial to their battle
Tanuj Solanki
first appeared in a different form in The New Indian Express

After reading Manu Joseph’s 2010 debut novel, Serious Men, one of the questions on my mind was: why isn’t the book ten times as popular as it is? A novel as entertaining as this one is rare to find – add to that the fact that it also makes cogent remarks about Brahminism, about Indian parents’ atrocious ambitions for their children, and about illicit love.

Serious Men doesn’t read like the work of a debutante. Perhaps Joseph’s long exper
Kaustubh Kaluskar
Book is fun to read. You will not find something expressed beautifully in a page or two. What you will find is a sentence here and there rich in wisdom/satire and crafted in perfect way.
Author has succeeded in not giving any extra space to any sentiment than it needs. This is perhaps one of the few books of which I have read every printed word.
There are many instances in the novel where one thing is compared to other for example brahmins vs dalits. In most of the books/stories I have read, when
Aug 18, 2013 Erwin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asia, indian-authors
After a slow start (too slow) and several moments when I almost gave up, the story finally picked up the pace and a deviously funny story unfolded. This book will get a positive rating. His second novel, The Illicit Happiness of Other People, is way better, though!!
Shashi Martynova
Feb 19, 2015 Shashi Martynova rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: translated
Отличный прохиндейский роман с живейшими персонажами. Ну и да - наука и Индия. Чего еще мне желать в читательском развлечении.
Арвинд Ачарья - мой герой.
Айян Мани - тоже герой, хоть и не мой.
Jan 04, 2017 Nirav rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a perfect start to the year. A book based in Bombay which is filled with a lot of satire, dark humour and based on bureaucracy of the country. The story which deals with issues of caste and social tension yet handles them in a sharp, funny way. It has a bit of a slow start but then when I felt that it was the time to just keep it aside, it picked up with pace and how. Highly recommended to everyone who are thinking to pick it up, you won't regret.
Prateek Agarwal
Sep 14, 2013 Prateek Agarwal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Don't be mislead by the title. 'Serious Men' is nothing serious. At one level it is a story of men who have a purpose (or so they think) in their life. At another level it is a story of people who are at the extreme ends of India's caste society. We have a dalit who thinks that brahmins have always had it easy, and it's just their stratum who have been left to face the World in all its challenging glory. He plots a script in which his 11-year old deaf son is transformed into a child prodigy who ...more
Tnahsin Garg
Jun 12, 2016 Tnahsin Garg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“A man cannot be exactly the way he wants to be and also dream of keeping his wife.”

Studded with such cutting one-liners and paragraphs of piercing satire, "Serious Men" is seriously a comic read. What I like about Joseph is that he does not spare anyone. Whether its a poor Dalit clerk with an apparently-genius son or its the narcissist Brahmin, director of the fictional scientific institute in Mumbai - Joseph tears every character apart one by one, and yet you can't help liking them.

From the
Shilpi Jain
Mar 02, 2012 Shilpi Jain rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thank you Manu Joseph for writing such a complex yet gripping novel. I can't stop to marvel at the sheer brilliance of the plot, the strong narrative, and the spontaneity of it all. Story of Ayyan and Oja Mani and their 'prodigy' son- Adi. Ayyan is not your typical run-of-the-mill hero, he has shades of grey, in fact, he's purely a grey character. He works as a personal assistant at the prestigious Institute of Theory and Research to the renowned physicist and the director Acharya who is equally ...more
Max Nemtsov
Jun 05, 2015 Max Nemtsov rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edited
Плутовской роман про науку, замешанный на Бальзаке в Болливуде — и с приветами Ч.П. Сноу, Лоджу и Макъюэну. Только гораздо лучше: у бледных англичан бы так прекрасно не вышло — первый был вообще не писатель, второй страшный зануда, а третий графоман. Тут же все живо, объемно, достоверно («круглые персонажи» по Форстеру, да; и даже грушевидные, как счастье) — ну и гораздо, гораздо смешнее. Индийский прохиндей-Растиньяк так и вообще шедеврален.
Mal Warwick
Jul 24, 2011 Mal Warwick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In his debut novel, Indian magazine editor Manu Joseph takes on the caste system, Big Science, love, marriage, and sex, corruption in government, the news media, office politics, loyalty and betrayal, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, and the fate of the Universe — yet it all hangs together somehow. This is Black Comedy, Indian-style.

Serious Men — the book’s satyrical title — refers to Aravind Acharya, the world-famous cosmologist who directs the Institute of Theory and Research in M
Mathis Bailey
More like a serious disappointment. I really wanted to like Serious Men, given the eye-catching title and beautiful Hindu cover-art, however, it just didn't deliver.

The story started off at a snail pace. It almost felt as if it didn't have a motive. But it picked up a quarter the way in. I found the writing pretty good, but heavy in detail. I guess that's the author's journalist background coming through. I thought the author spent way too much time narrating. And the astronomy scenes almost ma
Viswajith Venugopal
Serious Men is a delightful book! Manu Joseph is incredibly witty and insightful in this book, and through his powerful satire, he rips apart and pokes fun at so many things, it's incredible. (You've got to love a book that begins "Ayyan Mani's thick black hair was combed sideways and parted by a careless broken line, like the borders the British used to draw between two hostile neighbours". :D There are plenty of observations like this one.)

In some respects, Serious Men is a lot like The White
A. S.
Apr 04, 2011 A. S. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Manu Joseph knows how to spin a story from the most mundane and boring professions in his debut novel Serious Men. The title can be taken to mean the Brahmin scientists for whom the "protagonist" (and I use that term loosely here) labors as a lowly assistant or the two major male characters, Ayyan and his boss the brilliant Arvind Acharya.

Manu does an excellent job of making the characters funny, flawed, and relatable, even in the midst of a setting foreign to many Goodreads users. Those who are
switterbug (Betsey)
SERIOUS MEN combines serious charm, salacious wit, and combative, scientific cogitations that will appeal to lovers of subversive drollery. It is a comedy of manners, spotlighting the age-old caste consciousness of Brahmins vs. Dalits (formerly Untouchables), taking place primarily in a Scientific Research Institute and also in a Maharashtran chawl, an Indian tenement housing for the poor and lowly.

Two aging, eccentric Brahmin scientists at the Institute of Theory and Research in Mumbai vie for
Manu Prasad
Apr 13, 2013 Manu Prasad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review
"All a man really wants is to be greater than his friends"- Ayyan Mani's belief is indeed the theme that runs through 'Serious Men' though it manifests in different ways across classes. The jacket pitches the plot as the ramifications of Mani's efforts to raise himself above his peers by creating the myth of his son's genius, but the story belongs as much to the scientist Arvind Acharya as well - an eccentric genius heading the Institute where Mani works, and whose contempt for his peers and vie ...more
Jan 04, 2015 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Favorite quotes:

So composed and normal she appeared, but in her eyes he saw the hidden insanity of some women that drove men to the security of marrying others,

"Since my sperm count is half the normal rate, you must be doubly prepared to sleep with me," he had said.

He stood rooted near his chair and contemplated the acoustics in the basement, and why men married, and the exalted place of fidelity on a dwarf planet that went around a mediocre main-sequence star somewhere in the outer arm of just
Another story set in India, this novel is like-able right from the star, with a sharp eyed narrator hungry to climb the steep caste/class staircase, with echoes of my Adiga and Mistry.

Midway though now, I'm starting to love this book. I'm starting to think I have a literary brown fever. Joseph writes with ease and grace. Consider these two sentences I"ve earmarked, from different pages:

"The success of an old man lies in not wishing for company." p.61
"He saw in her the unmistakable insanity of
Jan 10, 2013 Lauren rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stopped-reading
I'm sad. I wanted to like this book, because I LOVED the author, Manu Joseph's, second book, "The Illicit Happiness of Other People." But like one of the three Amazon reviewers of the latter work, I too felt like the character development in this first novel paled in comparison to the brilliant development in the second one. And the plot -- though perhaps intricate (I didn't get far enough to fully judge -- felt staler.

"Serious Men" is told from the point of view of Ayyan Mani, a slum-dwelling m
Jan 31, 2016 Girish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book of grey humour is not for serious men. Or at least not meant to be read as a social commentary if you are the type to take offence. Maybe, if you don't take offence, you can read it as a social commentary.

The book has simple plots that revolves around ordinary people who have their grand schemes and ambitions. And the envious neighbors, hungry media, votebank politicians,passionate scientists (and science), vengeful lovers and office politics make for a fun light read.

Manu Joseph writ
Apr 20, 2014 mugglemuse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My main reaction to "Serious Men" (Manu Joseph,2010), is an intense curiosity about the genesis of the characters. Where did Joseph meet the Dr. Acharya with his round pink face and baldness, Oparna Goushamalik who laughed at jokes that she did not find funny, observe the guys worked on their laptops in taxi rides to increase the sales of soft drinks, and laugh at the "timepass" provided by International School students who volunteer in chawls?

If that is the rarified world he knows, how is so f
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“Scientists want to search for alien signals because that's what gets them publicity. They are like Jesus Christ."

"Jesus Christ?" Nambodri asked, with a faintly derogatory chuckle.

"Yes. They are exactly like Jesus Christ. You know that he turned water into wine."

"I've heard that story."

"From the point of view of pure chemistry, it is more miraculous to make wine into water than water into wine. But he did not do that. Because if he had gone to someone's house and converted their wine into water, they would have crucified him much earlier. He knew, Jana. He knew making water into wine was a more popular thing to do.”
“The fate of every love story, he knew very well, is in the rot of togetherness, or in the misery of separation. Lovers often choose the first with the same illusory wisdom that makes people choose to die later than now.” 21 likes
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