Book Review: The Illicit Happiness of Other People by Manu Joseph

OPINION CIRCUIT

This book had me at the get go. From the opening scene, I read, in a trance like state – most likely under one of the very neuroses Manu Joseph researched to write the book. An unconventional mystery about a father trying to find out why his cartoonist son committed suicide set in the Madras of the 90’s, the book is intensely depressing and funny in equal measure.

Joseph asks questions in the book that no sane man seeking to entertain his readers would. But he weaves them in seamlessly as nuggets that explain why the young man did what he did. There are pieces of the book which are pure literary magic, for example the way Thoma Chacko – the dead young man’s younger brother – sees life around him. Joseph describes his emotions in capital letters as if they exist as proper nouns, as living beings we meet…

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