Chennai: Serious Men by Manu Joseph has bagged The Hindu Best Fiction Award 2010. Writer and historian Nayantara Sahgal presented the award, which carries a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh to Manu Joseph.
Manu is the Editor of Open magazine and Serious Men is his first novel.
The award was instituted by The Hindu Literary Review as a prelude to celebrating its 20th year in 2011. Seventy-five entries from Indian fiction writing in English were accepted for the award. Eleven works were shortlisted by a panel of Chennai-based judges comprising Shreekumar Varma, novelist; K. Srilata, poet-academic; Parvathi Nayar, artist-critic; and Ranvir Shah, founder of the Prakiriti Foundation.
Serious Men by Manu Joseph has bagged The Hindu Best Fiction Award 2010. Writer and historian Nayantara Sahgal presented the award, which carries a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh to Manu Joseph.
The jury for the final award comprised of Shashi Deshpande, novelist and juror; Mukul Kesavan, author and essayist; Brinda Bose, academic and critic and Jai Arjun Singh, literary critic.
“It was a unanimous decision and it was a book that we all were excited about. The book entered into areas that not many Indian books have ventured into and there is a casual aplomb when the author deals with issues like caste and gender,” said Shashi Deshpande on behalf of the jury.
Manu Joseph’s Serious Men was published simultaneously in India (with HarperCollins India), Britain and the US. It has also been translated into Dutch, German, French and Serbian. The author was listed among the top new novelists of 2010 by the British newspaper, The Daily Telegraph.
Serious Men focuses on the life of Ayyan Mani, just another man in Bombay, stranded in the rot of a good marriage, an unremarkable life and a dead-end job as personal assistant to an insufferable astronomer called Arvind Acharya at the Institute of Theory and Research. But Ayyan is not as simple as he appears. To entertain himself and to give his wife the hope that they are heading towards a spectacular future, he embarks upon a secret game, weaving an outrageous fiction around his ten-year-old son. As he builds the small plots to promote the myth, he sets in motion a chain of events that soon threatens to overtake him.
When the formidable reputation of Arvind Acharya, who is obsessed with the theory that microscopic extraterrestrials are falling on Earth all the time, plummets after a major scandal, and he is rocked by the vicious office politics in the institute, Ayyan sees in the crisis an opportunity to further his own game and make his son a national celebrity. But in the exhilaration of the game lurks danger.
Alternately funny and poignant, Serious Men is a savage satire on class, love, relationships, and our veneration of science.