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Winner of the Man Asian Literary Prize and shortlisted for the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction

Ayyan Mani works in the Institute of Theory and Research as a lowly personal assistant to a brilliant, insufferable astronomer, Arvind Acharya, who is obsessed with his theory about microscopic aliens falling to earth.

Stranded in an ordinary life, Ayyan knows he may not be able to escape his realities. To entertain himself, and to cheer up his weary wife, he weaves an outrageous fiction around his ten-year-old son, setting in motion a chain of extraordinary events he is unable to stop. Meanwhile, a war is brewing between rival scientists at the Institute and a beautiful astrobiologist complicates matters further. An astute observer, Ayyan follows these events closely, inventing new ways to further his own cause.

Serious Men is a brilliantly funny tale of science, love and hope. Manu Joseph’s assured storytelling makes this a debut to treasure.

Reviews

Funny, diverting and original
Guardian
Manu Joseph's first novel elegantly describes collisions with an unyielding status quo, ably counterpointing the frustrations of the powerless with the unfulfilling realities of power. With this astute comedy of manners he makes a convincing bid for his own recognition as a novelist of serious talent, the latest addition to a roster of Indian writers who are creating fine literary art from their country's fearsome contradictions
Peter Carty, Independent
Manu Joseph's satirical tale of an ostensibly new India still in thrall to its caste-ridden and sexist traditions is so much more than a mere comic caper . . . Sophisticated entertainment
Catherine Taylor, Guardian
The finest comic novelists know that a small world can illuminate a culture and an age...with this sad-funny debut Joseph does just that
Boyd Tonkin, Books to light up lazy days, Independent
He has written a debut novel that skewers a society where new ambitions and older class divisions co-exist. From the contrasts of contemporary India, he extracts pointed, often bitter comedy
Sunday Times
The writing is exuberant
TLS
The absurdity and humiliation of social exclusion drives the comedy of one of the year's most auspicious debuts
Independent
A charming debut novel
Guardian