Nominated by:

India International Centre Library, New Delhi

Publisher of nominated edition:

John Murray Publishers, UK

The Illicit Happiness of Other People

Manu Joseph      

2014 Longlist

A darkly comic novel set in modern India.

Seventeen-year-old Unni has done something terrible. The only clue to his actions lies in a comic strip he has drawn, which has fallen into the hands of his father Ousep – a nocturnal anarchist with a wife who is fantasizing about his early death. Ousep begins investigating the extraordinary life of his son, but as he circles closer and closer to the truth, he unravels a secret that shakes his family to the core.
Set in Madras in the 1990s, where every adolescent male is preparing for the toughest exam in the world, this is a powerful and darkly comic story involving an alcoholic’s probe into the minds of the sober, an adolescent cartoonist’s dangerous interpretation of absolute truth, an inner circle of talented schizophrenics and the pure love of a 12-year-old boy for a beautiful girl.

(From Publisher)

About the Author

Manu Joseph is a columnist with the International Herald Tribune, the global edition of the New York Times. The Illicit Happiness of Other People is his second novel. His first darkly comic novel, Serious Men, won the Hindu Best Fiction Award 2010 and was one of Huffington Post’s 10 best books of 2010. He was also shortlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize, and for the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction.

Librarian’s Comments

The key revelations are powerful which transforms the novel from an offbeat romp to a melancholy take on the age-old story of adolescent desire and its frustrations. The novel has been exquisitely phrased without an excess of sentimentality and describes collisions with an unyielding status quo, ably counterpointing the frustrations of the powerless with the unfulfilled realities of power. It brings satirical tale of new India still in thrall to its caste-ridden and a sexist tradition is so much than a mere comic.

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