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Miss Laila, Armed and Dangerous

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  783 ratings  ·  118 reviews
On the day that Hindu nationalists have won a spectacular election victory, a building collapses in Mumbai. The rescue operation finds a single survivor in the debris. The only person able to reach him is Akhila Iyer, a medical student who is also a notorious social media prankster. She finds him mumbling in delirium that two people are on their way to carry out a terror a ...more
Hardcover, 216 pages
Published September 2017 by Fourth Estate
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Prabhat Singh
Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
There are two Manu Josephs. One, Manu the author. Two, Manu the journalist. The first is an inspiration while the second is a warning. In his previous two books, Manu the journalist took a backseat and Manu the author – capable of staining the blank page with words of timeless wisdom - shone through. In this book, however, exactly the opposite has happened.

First and foremost, this book should be deprived of its “fiction” tag. The only fictional element here is the lame name changes done to (bare
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Miss Laila is the sort of book where you don't really know which side the author sympathizes with. The novel trapezes across a few contemporary events in Indian society like the Ishrat Jahan encounter killing, the Gujarat earthquake and the ascent of Narendra Modi and the Hindu nationalists. The characters include one of Joseph's best creations - Akhila Iyer, a female prankster who makes videos that poke fun at prominent personalities (especially liberals).

Manu Joseph observes everything with a
A Man Called Ove
Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
4.5/5 "There r faces that only an Indian can make. Like that baffled face when he is shocked by the most logical outcome of his actions. He crosses the road like a cow, and he is startled by a truck. A vehicle on the road? How? He walks across the railway track, and he finds a train hurtling towards him. A train on a railway track? He is stunned."
The release of this book kept getting delayed and I would check every couple of days to see whether it is available. Bought it at 8 mins after midnight
Gurveen Kaur
"There are faces that only an Indian can make. Like that baffled face when he is shocked by the most logical outcome of his actions. He crosses the road like a cow, and he is startled by a truck. A vehicle on the road? How? He walks across the railway track, and he finds a train hurtling towards him. A train on a railway track? He is stunned."

This quote from the book explains a lot about what it has in store for the readers. I have a lot of things I want to talk specifically about, specially the
Sep 30, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 stars rounded to 3. When you pick up a book with great expectations you are being unfair to the author's creativity. This book by Manu Joseph stays close to the journalist in him than on the human character expert that made us love him. Standalone, this book is readable, but not one that you want to become a brand ambassador.

Miss Laila Armed and Dangerous could be a satire or a thinly veiled soft expose. Whichever be the case, the book knows to tell a good story. Akhila Iyer, a standup comed
3.5 stars
With Illicit happiness of other people and Serious men, Manu Joseph has easily become one of my favourite contemporary Indian authors. Hence I pounced upon this book as soon as I came to know of it.
This one ranks beneath the above 2 novels, but above Lost Libido and other pulp fiction, his collection of short stories.
This novel is about
- a plucky young news reporter/ vlogger wbo is not afraid to caricature and publicly humiliate all pompous public figures, irrespective of their caste
3rd November:
3.5 stars
The book reads well and makes for a pacy, interesting story but truth be told, I didn't get my closure with it by the end of the book. (and I wanted to read more about the actual incident. Ishrat Jahan Case - if you're curious too.)

I'm all in for satire in stories and this is precisely what works for me in Manu Joseph's writings. That said, the story as a whole felt incomplete, it being a writing on a real life encounter case - I guess there will be loose ends as there are
Gorab Jain
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: z2017, buddy-reads, indian
Disappointed. Serious and Illicit expectations from the author killed it for me.
Ritesh Kukrety
I would have given this a three-star rating after the first 50 pages or so. The writing was good, if a little rambly. The author's predisposition to poke fun at both sides of the political spectrum shone through at times, while at others it felt a bit flat and forced. Some of the ideas and musing were interesting, while others just too tangential to the flow of the narrative.

Well, well, Manu, I thought, where are you going with this.

As if in response, the writing shifted up another gear. Without
K.J. Charles
I missed something here, I think. There are the stories of a vlogger prankster, a man trapped in a collapsed building, a girl whose sister is on a road trip with her boyfriend, and one of the policemen following them because the boyfriend is a suspected terrorist. They intersect and sort of fit together eventually, but it doesn't really form a satisfying whole in story terms. However, it's based on real events that I don't know about, so I think I just don't have the basic information to interpr ...more
Andy Weston
Dec 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: india
There’s a highly contrived scenario here, but it is excusable for what follows.
After the collapse of a building in an earthquake in Mumbai the sole survivor is trapped beneath rubble, and only reached through a narrow natural tunnel, accessible by a small and fearless young woman, a well known prankster, to whom the survivor mumbles that a terrorist attack is about to take place.
As the adventure aspect quietly ticks over, Jospeh blends in plenty on the current political scenario of India; whic
Oct 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Eminently quotable yet decidedly average.

There was a quote I read somewhere that goes, I might be paraphrasing, like this "If everything is funny, nothing is funny and if everything is sad, nothing is sad". This applies for Manu Joseph's latest book where every page has a joke or a quotable quote, often mired in its own smugness and unmissable sarcasm. It is as if Manu has decided to joke on everything and everyone and for every joke he writes on anyone else, he writes one on Modi. The result i
Anuradha Kumar
Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is such a lovely book - fast-paced, beautifully written, with characters that stay in your heart for a long time. Set in an India that you will instantly recognize as your own, the characters of Akhila - an independant, edgy doctor who plays the most hilarious social media pranks on stuffed egoes, and the beautiful, vulnerable Laila who is on a journey that is fraught with all sorts of possibilities, are possibly the most interesting women characters written in an Indian novel.

Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
A thrilling, page turning fare which is very brave and courageous in its writing and which reflects the contemporary Indian society at large and the current political scenario.
Asha Seth
Jun 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: indian-lit, 2019
Joseph is India's Bulgakov. This book is a perfect portrayal of his personality as a journalist than an author.
Nikita Mittu
Dec 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
"One reason why the Muslim population is growing faster than the Hindu, Damodarbhai would never say it out loud, is that Muslims don't kill their girls in the womb."

One of the best books that I read last year was this amazing book by Manu Joseph. This story set up in the current political-social scenario and takes place in the course of a day. This book is full of sarcasm and wit. One is left baffled during many parts of the book even after being aware with the reality of it.

"There are fa
Sayantoni Das
Jul 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Man, was this book hard to review! Honestly, this is my very first Manu Joseph book so I had little to no idea what it had in store for me. The blurb sounded super interesting and it read "thriller". That one word was enticing enough to pull me in and I let it.

Now getting back to the review, I must accept the fact that I have always been vocally apolitical. But I know how important this subject is, so I have never been ignorant. This book claims to be a work of fiction but truly, it is only a f
Meghna (the_bookshelflife)
Nov 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
" One reason why the Muslim population is growing faster than the Hindu, Damodarbhai would never say it out loud, is that Muslims don't kill their girls in the womb."
Miss Laila, Armed and Dangerous takes on as a thriller that unfolds during the course of a day. Miss Akhila Iyer, an aware young lady with a knack of getting into trouble, finds herself conveying information from a delirious man trapped under a collapsed building. He is giving out real time movements of a Muslim couple which leaves
Umesh Kesavan
Oct 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, novels, iwe
"Why don't you go live in Sweden?"
" I don't hate this place", he says.
" You do. It whips you every day".
"India is a wound,", he says in a professorial tone. "But it is not a wound like a whiplash. It is a wound,like a spouse".

Manu Joseph is back with his third novel. Unlike his previous two which featured less of Manu the Journalist, this novel feels more like a fictionalization of events and tropes familiar to any Manu fan. Nonetheless, the witty one-liners, the dark humour , the brave lampooni
Nov 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Read it if you've read his books earlier. This is a satire on a real life incident. Don't judge his writing by this book.
Nov 07, 2017 rated it liked it
I read "The illicit happiness of other people" recently and was blown away by the incredibly well fleshed-out characters whom you empathise with. I picked up this book hoping to find more of that but was disappointed. It has absolutely nothing in common with the previous book and the characters seemed to be the opposite.

Even if I keep the comparison aside and approach this book as a standalone product of the author, the book fails to evoke much interest in me. Barely do you feel for the characte
Tnahsin Garg
Sep 03, 2018 rated it liked it
"When the elite of a system become the underclass in another system, they search for a moral cause to restore balance of power. This is popularly known as activism. Upon finding the moral cause, the elite co-opt, enlist and employ naive simpletons to fight the battle. Activism is always a retaliation of the elite, always couched in morals and always a feudal system where the strong employ the weak, the poor, the demented, the suicidal, the semi-literate and other losers of the society."

The ab
Namita Krishnamurthy
I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this book. Truth be told, Manu Joseph is one of my go-to sparkling writers - I am of the firm belief that I can crawl into 'Serious Men' any day as if into an old boyfriend tshirt. Miss Laila, however, is a curious matter.

True to his style, Manu Joseph has some SPECTACULAR punch lines. Lines that kick you right in the (political as well as aesthetic) gut. They can make you shudder and chuckle at the same time, a quality that is simply a delight to behold.
Sreeraag Mohan
Oct 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
THERE ARE FACES only an Indian can make. Like that baffled face when he is shocked by the most rational outcome of his own actions. He crosses the road like a cow, and he is startled by a truck. A vehicle on the road? How? He walks across the railway track, and he finds a train hurtling towards him. A train on a railway track? He is stunned. Cops who do not wear bulletproof vests break into a house to fight militants, and they are shot in their paunches. They stagger out looking bewildered. T
Underwhelming delivery built on a meaty premise. This is Manu Joseph's most overtly political novel yet, however I can't get rid of the feeling that the characters were written separately and cobbled up together to create a novel. Naturally, things are coming apart at the seams. Joseph pulls no punches, and drops names like anything. Akhila's story seems incomplete, not sure if that is intentional. Also could not get rid of the feeling that the book was much shorter than what it should ideally h ...more
A little over 2 stars, this book surprises me. The Illicit Happiness of Other People tops my list of 2016 reads and sadly this book doesn't live up to the expectations I had of Manu. The characters and the incidents that the book is based on are easily identifiable and lack a magic or punch or something. The story of Akhila's mom was an unnecessary add-on.

A fast read nevertheless, looking forward to read more of the author's exploration of human thoughts and feelings as in The Illicit Happiness
Qais Palekar
Nov 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: indian-authors
Very different book. I don't think I have read anything like it
Oct 15, 2017 rated it really liked it

Miss Laila : Fictional & Dangerous

Miss Laila is a work of fiction. Absolutely. If it flaunts (or you think it flaunts) any resemblance to the incident of fake (or real) encounter of Ishrat Jahan, then that’s only a coincidence. Nothing more. If the key characters - 19 year old Laila, Hindu-brahmin converted jihadist Malayali Jamal, Patriarch Professor Vaid of the ‘always’ right wing and most importantly our own Damodarbhai (Damo) – rings any bell or checks
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
I liked this book, mostly because of the weaving of the non-fiction in fiction. I wish more authors would do this because it brings to light how real-life events affect ordinary people. Otherwise, real life events remain in the domain of nameless and faceless people, soon forgotten in the era of fast-paced news cycles. Something about reading such real-life events through the lens of fiction, makes such events linger and thus, remembered.

The other reason that I liked the book is the brutal expo
Subhradeep Chatterjee
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book is just the material that might repel you from Joseph’s brilliance and hard hitting story telling (which are quite evident in ‘Serious Men’ and ‘Illicit happiness of other people’).

This is the book where you find absolutely shallow characters who are either depicted in shades of white or shades of black in between which goes against the crux that formed the base of Joseph’s other brilliant characters like ‘Mani’ and ‘Unni Chako’.

Conceded that, judging a stand alone book based on its p
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