Serious Men

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.

The cover text gave me the idea that this would be a Don Quixote versus the wind mills story, set in India and with some social commentary on castes on the side.
Instead it was -for the biggest part- a ‘days out of the life of’ story. Not bad, but not what I expected, which made the first three quarters of the story drag.

There are two major plot lines involved. One of them is the story of Ayyan Mani and his son Adi. Ayyan wants more for his son and to show the elite that they aren’t gods and creates a story of his son being a genius. The second one is of Ayyan’s boss, the director of an Institute of Science. He feels a bit unstable in life and stumbles into an affair with the only female scientist around. Add in some fraud, black-mail and different ideas about aliens and the Big Bang and you have Serious Men.

This is one of those books that I can’t call bad/horrible/and so on, but wouldn’t recommend either. I was relieved when I was finished and felt a bit disappointed that I hadn’t enjoyed it more. Because there are good bits and a nice insight in the caste-system. Maybe ‘Start it without any ideas and expectations’ would be the best advice. And don’t read the cover text.

Serious Men, Manu Joseph, Murray 2010

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