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Adult Fiction Books

The Illicit Happiness of Other People by Manu Joseph

illicithappiness

The Illicit Happiness of Other People by Manu Joseph is written in the style of  Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being, a Czech novel of existentialism and bohemia before the Soviet invasion.  Like Kundera’s work, Joseph’s piece is important.  Unlike Kundera’s novel, Joseph’s tale reads lightly, even though much of the drama within is sad.  Here’s a bit from the publishers:

A smart, wry work that includes mystery, philosophy, and an unlikely love story, this book addresses many encompassing characteristics of domestic life in southern India, from male-female dynamics to the value of reputation to the overwhelming pressures of the education system.

It has been three years since seventeen-year-old, gifted cartoonist Unni Chacko mysteriously fell from the balcony in his home to his death. His family—father Ousep, a failed novelist, banished journalist, who smokes two cigarettes at once “because three is too much”; mother Mariamma, who stretches the family’s money, raises their two boys, and, in her spare time, gleefully fantasizes about her husband dying; and twelve-year-old, love-struck brother Thoma, who wears his dead brother’s hand-me-downs—have coped by not coping. When the post office delivers a comic drawn by Unni that had been lost in the mail since his death, Ousep ventures on a quest to understand his son and rewrite his family’s story.

Manu Joseph won the 2011 PEN/Open Book Award for his debut novel, Serious Men. A journalist for the International Herald Tribune, Joseph lives in New Delhi…

There’s a sort of tragic humor in the novel that I like.  It’s the kind of storytelling that reminds me of Haroun and the Sea of Stories and even Life of Pi.  There is a fantastical element to Indian storytelling that appeals to me.  I think it shows that fantasy doesn’t have to mean witches, dinosaurs, and flying saucers.  I look forward to discovering more Indian writers.

 

 

Categories
Adult Fiction Books

The Illicit Happiness of Other People by Manu Joseph

illicithappiness

The Illicit Happiness of Other People by Manu Joseph is written (at least in the title) in the style of  Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being, a Czech novel of existentialism and bohemia before the Soviet invasion.  Like Kundera’s work, Joseph’s piece is important.  Unlike Kundera’s novel, Joseph’s tale reads lightly, even though much of the drama within is sad.  Here’s a bit from the publishers:

A smart, wry work that includes mystery, philosophy, and an unlikely love story, this book addresses many encompassing characteristics of domestic life in southern India, from male-female dynamics to the value of reputation to the overwhelming pressures of the education system.

It has been three years since seventeen-year-old, gifted cartoonist Unni Chacko mysteriously fell from the balcony in his home to his death. His family—father Ousep, a failed novelist, banished journalist, who smokes two cigarettes at once “because three is too much”; mother Mariamma, who stretches the family’s money, raises their two boys, and, in her spare time, gleefully fantasizes about her husband dying; and twelve-year-old, love-struck brother Thoma, who wears his dead brother’s hand-me-downs—have coped by not coping. When the post office delivers a comic drawn by Unni that had been lost in the mail since his death, Ousep ventures on a quest to understand his son and rewrite his family’s story.

Manu Joseph won the 2011 PEN/Open Book Award for his debut novel, Serious Men. A journalist for the International Herald Tribune, Joseph lives in New Delhi…

There’s a sort of tragic humor in the novel that I like.  It’s the kind of storytelling that reminds me of Haroun and the Sea of Stories and even Life of Pi.  There is a fantastical element to Indian storytelling that appeals to me.  I think it shows that fantasy doesn’t hafta mean witches, dinosaurs, and flying saucers.  I look forward to discovering more Indian writers.

I give it four paws!

Unconventional Librarian 4paws

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Books

Great Reads Around the World

I recently came across a post by the cerebral Maria Popova at Brain Pickings.  The title?  Stone is Not Cold: Miroslav Sasek’s Playful Vintage Illustrations of  Classical Sculpture.

Quite a mouthful to be sure.

What’s so intriguing about the book is that the author takes classic sculpture and turns it into silly illustrations for children.

If the cover doesn’t make you chuckle, some of the illustrations inside should.

 

 

 

This example is the famed Medusa with snakes for hair, at the hairdresser.

Ok, not your average children’s illustrations, but that’s why adults love these too.

Why am I so intrigued by this book?

I have a special place in my heart for Czech literature and Miroslav Sasek is a mid century illustrator.  Many years ago I spent some time in the Czech Republic and found their culture to be artistically rich and full of humor.

I’ve read several books by the Czechs:

The Good Soldier Svejk by Jaroslav Hasek

Which is not a children’s book and contains language that is offensive but is indicative of the era and is suitable historically.  It is darkly funny. Sveijk  is a soldier in the war. And he’s a boob; yet somehow manages to get himself into and out of the silliest situations.

I’ve also enjoyed other Czech authors such as Josef Skvorecky, Franz Kafka, and Milan Kundera.

I suspect the Czech’s had to keep their sense of humor as they were under Russian rule for such a long time.  But that my dears, is another post.

Not sure if you’re familiar with the Czech Republic? I’ll bet you’ve heard of the famous and beautiful clock in Prague?

image by An Unconventional Librarian

While I did try to learn the Czech language, I read these particular books in English.

What’s your great read from around the world?