I loved loved loved this book! It pulled me right out of my readers-block (not sure if that’s a thing, but if its isn’t it should be).
This is the third book of Manu Joseph’s that I have read, and I enjoyed it as much I did the first one. His novels have a political mission. It would be an over-simplification to call his style of writing ‘political satire’. Whilst this is definitely a major theme, for me, Joseph’s writing is anti-establishment. May that establishment be the simple everyday norms of society (The Illicit Happiness of Other People), the caste system (as in Serious Men).
Ms.Laila is a page-turner that was easy to read but still managed to capture a slice of the complex cultural climate in today’s Indian nation state. It is fiction but firmly rooted in contemporary Indian politics. It casts a cynical eye on both conservative Hindu nationalism and ‘champagne socialists’ that are a prominent feature of the Indian nation state today.
The novel revolves around a mystery couple that are on the run but told from three different seemingly unconnected perspectives. The story opens with a collapsed building in Mumbai, stuck within it is a mysterious man mumbling the real time whereabouts of a suspected terrorist couple on the run. At the same time, a young intelligence agent is tailing the suspects. These two parallel tales take the reader on a heart-racing journey and to an end that I didn’t really expect and still don’t know what to make of.
Read it for yourself and find out!