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Serious Men

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  3,497 ratings  ·  405 reviews
A poignant, bitingly funny Indian satire and love story set in a scientific institute and in Mumbai’s humid tenements.

Ayyan Mani, one of the thousands of dalit (untouchable caste) men trapped in Mumbai’s slums, works in the Institute of Theory and Research as the lowly assistant to the director, a brilliant self-assured astronomer. Ever wily and ambitious, Ayyan weaves tw
Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 2nd 2010 by W. W. Norton Company (first published 2010)
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 ·  3,497 ratings  ·  405 reviews

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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
Aug 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2018, indian
'To me, satire is like porn, but Indian satire is, climax.'
- Chuck Plahniuk, author of Fight Club

'Indian crackheads are boring, they're real lowlives. They don't read Les Miserables or talk existentialism, they just sprawl on the roads at night, I hate such junkies, I wouldn't have written about them in thousand years.'
- Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting

'I'm not sure if I would've written something like Less than Zero or American Psycho if I was an Indian, they got something else to deal w
Gorab Jain
Apr 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Gorab by: A Man Called Ove
Shelves: z2016, indian
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
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Serious Men is one of the best heist novels that I have read in my life. It is not about a bank robbery or about jewel thieves. It is about a Dalit man Ayaan Mani who is trying to steal the question paper of one of the toughest exams in India, so that his son can escape their rotten existence in a Mumbai chawl and become a scientist/teacher in one of India's most prestigious institutions - the Institute of Theory and Research.

Serious Men is a great science fiction novel. A lot of the novel is s
Jul 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
​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
Jul 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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 16, 2014 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
Sep 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Insane !
Nov 24, 2010 rated it did not like it
I found this book to be disappointing and sexist. Read my full review here: ...more
Dec 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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
Asha Seth
Mar 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: indian-lit, 2019
"How serious is this book about Serious Men?" I asked my friend mockingly, who couldn't help but recommend this book to me at every turn of any bookish conversation. "Not very much and at the same time, totally," he said. I could not make a word of it but then thought to myself, could it really hurt to try?
And one fine sleepless night, tired from the lack of doing anything serious I dived into SERIOUS MEN. I confess it has been one of my best uncalculated decisions that has made my self-belief
Mar 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
Kaustubh Kaluskar
Jan 23, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Yuko Shimizu
Nov 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
You know that feeling when someone really really smart perfectly say something you wanted to say but you are not articulate enough to say it, but more importantly, you don't have enough courage to say it? And you just want to shout out YES!!! In full volume? This book is just that. Best after-taste I had from a book in a long time.
Sudhir Pai
Jun 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Don't go by the title of this book. I have a feeling the title probably drove many curious readers away. Once you convince yourself to go past the baffling cover, you'll discover what I believe is possibly one of the best satires on urban India.

While this unputtdownable 300-odd-page debut novel of Manu Joseph is a simple story of heist, it is a fantastic social commentary of India's caste politics, life in Mumbai, government-funded research institutes, media, sexism at work, and parenting. Ther
Jul 14, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: indian-authors, asia
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!!
Jul 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A fresh, witty and totally wacky read!
Please read my review on my blog, link below.
Mathis Bailey
Feb 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
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
Danial Tanvir
Jul 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
i actually did like this book.
it is based in india.
it is about an indian man called ayyan mani who lives in bombay.
actually this book is based in bombay.
its all about his son adi , his full name is adi mani.
he talks about life outside earth and about Extraterrestrial intelligence.
he has a wife called oja mani.
he has a son called aditya mani or simple known as adi mani .
his son is a genuis.
thats what his teachers think so.
he is very brilliant and knowns a lot.
he wins a scholarship to study in swi
Tnahsin Garg
Mar 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
“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
Sep 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
When one starts reading a book - the story, the characters, the plot, the language, the author are prime factors to deicide your like or dislike of the book. But as you continue to read there are certain characteristics which leave much stronger impression on you. Like sometimes it is the cover of the book, sometimes it's the spacing, or the font, or the paragraph and construction of sentences, As for me, and note that this is a self-observation over my short reading journey, love to discover li ...more
Jun 04, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: discontinued
I really tried to complete the book but all attempts were in vain, I was willing to forego and ignore the racist phrases, the explanation of women as mere sexual objects and even the lethargic attempt of a dad son bonding but in spite of this I was never able to move forward with the book at all, I would seriously think for a looooooooong time before I decide to read any of the author's future works.....
Feb 10, 2019 rated it liked it
'Mahabharata’s great war, with its flying machines and mystical missiles, he said, was fought using extraterrestrial technologies that were later mistaken as the hallucinations of poets.'
Review to follow.
Abhyudaya Shrivastava
This was a good way to end my reading sabbatical of 2018. Serious Men is a story of class and gender conflict. The author has spilled wit on every page and even the misogyny is funny. Ayyan Mani is a clerk in a Scientific Research Institute which is dominated by Upper Caste men. Men who are way too serious about silly stuff like aliens and gravity (or so Ayyan assumes the case to be).

Ayyan lives an ordinary life in a chawl in Mumbai with his wife Oja and son Adi. The son is no genius but like a
delightful and funny novel of modern day India in Mumbai of a scientist and his administration assistant which is a satire of modern India its comical in parts but do make you think though and the assistant with his son.
Wiebke (1book1review)
I really liked the writing and social commentary and picture it portrayed. However, I felt the plot a little lacking to keep me super invested and excited past the first 100 pages. Still worth reading, but not a must read.
Megha Sreeram
Nov 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
The book gives, in a nutshell, what the two extremes of the Indian social sector think of each other, of the world around it and the media.

I had heard a lot about Manu Joseph, the author, and hence was curious when I saw his name on the library bookshelf. I wouldn't call myself too happy, but this one was a good book.

Ayyan Mani is sole breadwinner of a family of three, living in a chawl in Mumbai. The initial pages of the book give a good description of Ayyan and the way his mind works. He wor
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“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.” 28 likes
“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.”
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