Shortlisted for 2011 Commonwealth Prize South Asia & Europe Best First Book
Shortlisted for 2010 the Man Asian Literary Prize
Winner of 2010 Hindu Best Fiction Award
Five words from the blurb: Mumbai, slums, son, genius, comic
Serious Men had a controversial reception in India because it depicts a Dalit (someone of a lower caste) as being a victim of circumstance instead of having an inferior intelligence to the Brahmin (upper-caste people). This attitude offends many people in India who like to see that these social barriers remain unquestioned.
The book centres on Ayyan, a man so fed up of life in the slums that he decides to hatch a plan to elevate his position. He claims that his 10-year-old son is a mathematical genius, but whilst this gains the attention he was looking for, the lie quickly gets out of hand.
The book is quick and easy to read, but unfortunately the humour wasn’t to my taste and although I could spot the jokes they barely raised a smile in me.
The book did a fantastic job of showing the differences between the Indian castes and the unjust way in which a person’s position at birth determines their outcome in life, but as a novel I found it unsatisfying. The story had little forward momentum and I was frequently bored by their trivial discussions.
I also failed to connect with the characters on an emotional level.
I know that a lot of people will love this book and I did find a lot to like, but I’m afraid it just didn’t contain my kind of humour.
The thoughts of other bloggers:
It’s the kind of book that you yearn to discuss, debate, analyze and always remember. At Pemberley
Joseph, a former editor of The Times of India, tries to weave a funny and clever novel about the ridiculousness of academia, and for the most part, he succeeds. Mumbai Boss
….this is an amazing book and follows in the league of White Tiger in terms of satire by Indian authors on society. Sandeepinlife’s Weblog