The illicit happiness of other People

The illicit happiness of other peopleManu Joseph (born 1974) is an Indian journalist and writer.  He is the current editor of OPEN magazine.  His debut novel “Serious Men” was shortlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize  and won the 2010 The Hindu Literary Prize.   It was included in Huffington Post’s 10 best books of 2010.  In 2011, it was shortlisted for the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize.  He also received the PEN Open Book Award for the novel in 2011.

His second novel “The Illicit Happiness of Other People” was published  in September 2012.  The novel has been described as ‘a quirky comic taken on a domestic life in southern India.’

Joseph was born in Kottayam, Kerala and grew up in Chennai. He is a graduate of Loyola College, Chennai but currently lives in Delhi.

This story is based in Chennai in a residential colony which features the Chacko household.  There was a four member family.  Yes, you read it right. ‘WAS’.  Now they are only three and the head of the family Ousep Chacko is in a relentless pursuit in finding out why Unni Chacko did what he did.

Ousep Chacko is a journalist by profession in the day and is a menace to the family and neighbourhood in the night owing to the drunken tantrums he throws.  Mariamma is a post-graduate in Economics and talks to the walls, the consequence of a childhood tragedy.  They have two sons. Unni Chacko and Thoma Chacko. Unni is adored by everyone and is an awesome cartoonist.  Thoma who is the youngest son and is an adolescent is always anxious about things and is terrified of everything.  While everyone in the neighbourhood is busy racking their brains preparing for IIT, Unni is least affected by this mania for academic excellence.

What did Unni do?  Unni was seventeen when he fell down from the balcony leaving the family to ponder whether it was an accident.  This forces Ousep, an otherwise failed writer to investigate the mystery of Unni’s death.  While Mariamma and Thoma struggle to lead a normal life, they are helped by the Parish priest in buying provisions at discounted rates.  Ousep approaches Unni’s  friends to learn of various truths about Unni’s extraordinary ways. ‘The Illicit Happiness of other people’ is one book that you cannot put down without enjoying the various humorous plots it has.

Sanju Maria    



The Immortals of Meluha

The Immortals of MeluhaIndia is a land of diverse cultures and religions. The main religion is Hinduism and this revolves around a host of Gods and Goddesses. Majority of the people followed the traditions and customs of the religion blindly. However, has anybody ever wondered if these Gods that we worship and revere so much, were actually once mortals like us who walked the face of the Earth? If that question has bothered you, then this book is for you. If it hasn’t bothered you, then this book is still for you.

This story, set in 1900 BC, revolves around a rough-hewn Tibetan warrior Shiva who lives in a village near the Indo-Tibetan border. Shiva’s main job as the chief was to protect his people. They were defending themselves most of the time from a ruthless clan called the Pakratis whose main aim was to seize the territory form them. Shiva’s tribe was also faced with another problem- Nandi, a representative of the far away land called Meluha had invited them to stay in his land with better facilities and more safety. Shiva was sitting on the fence about the decision until ultimately; the Pakrat is made the decision for him by attacking them once again. Nandi gained Shiva’s trust in this encounter by fighting valiantly on Shiva’s side and when Shiva announced his decision to move to this paradise called Meluha, his tribe unanimously agreed because they knew Shiva always did the best for them.

Shiva and his tribe’s arrival to Meluha struck them dumb. The meticulously planned streets and drainage systems, beautiful buildings and lush greenery were something they had never seen before. After the Meluhan administrative department confirmed their status as immigrants, the tribe was set up in a simple lodging that was in fact highly wondrous for the tribe. There Dr.Ayurvathi, a high-profile lady doctor was made in charge of making sure the ‘uncouth immigrants’ as she referred to them, were free from any diseases that may harm the Meluhans. Each immigrant was given a sip of ‘Somras’ which basically cleansed their body of germs and diseases. However what was not known to Shiva and his tribe was that this Somras was a way to prove an ancient legend true- “When evil reaches all epic proportions, when all seems lost, when it appears that your enemies have triumphed, a hero will emerge.” This hero is to be hailed as the Neelkanth- The One With The Blue Throat. This hero turned out to be Shiva.

Shiva’s life sky rocketed from that point onwards. He learns that the once proud Meluhanempire and it’s Suryavanshi rulers face severe perils as its primary river, the revered Saraswati, is slowly drying to extinction. They also face devastating terrorist attacks from the land of Chandravanshis. He also falls in love with the daughter of Daksha, the Emperor of Meluha-Sati. Driven by duty as well as love, Shiva sets out on a journey as the leader of the Suryavanshi vengeance to destroy evil.

It is a general belief that the writing of Indian authors can never reach the standards of English and American authors and so far, most Indian-written books I’ve read have only strengthened this belief. However this book written by an Indian author Amish is completely contradictory of that belief. Amish has mixed history and fiction to produce this wonderful story complete with twists and turns. In all, this book is a complete page-turner. This story of a man whom legend turned into a god is one that will leave you spell-bound from start to finish. In short, this book is a must read.

Sindhu S



The Racketeer

The RacketeerJohn Ray Grisham, Jr. is an American Lawyer and Author, best known for his popular legal thrillers. John Grisham graduated from Mississippi State University before attending the University of Mississippi.

The eponymous racketeer, Malcolm Bannister, opens by telling us: “I am a lawyer, and I am in prison. It’s a long story.” It is indeed. As that long story begins, Bannister is midway through a 10-year prison sentence for money laundering, though his real crime, we discover, is simply “picking the wrong client.” A small-town lawyer with a modest practice, Bannister saw his life come apart when he agreed to handle a real estate transaction for a white-collar crook named Barry Rafko. Ignorant of his client’s history and reputation, Bannister, along with several other unwitting participants, was swept up in a tide of indictments when Rafko was arrested on multiple counts of conspiracy and financial malfeasance. The jury was confused by a flood of evidence and pressured by “a weak and sanctimonious” judge to arrive at a speedy verdict. Bannister received an exorbitant sentence, one that stripped him of his family, freedom and career, leaving him embittered and eager for revenge.

Five years later, Bannister gets his chance when a corrupt federal judge is murdered, together with his secretary/mistress, in an isolated cabin in the mountains of southwest Virginia. Stymied by a lack of witnesses and an absence of forensic evidence, the FBI investigation goes nowhere — until Bannister steps in. A jailhouse lawyer with access to a great many criminal secrets, he alone knows the killer’s motive and identity, and he offers to trade that knowledge for money, freedom and a fresh start. When the FBI accepts his offer and successfully indicts the newly identified suspect, Bannister — re-christened Max Baldwin — embarks on a new life. At this point, the real, underlying story can begin.

What follows is a cleverly orchestrated series of twists and reversals. As he shuttles his characters from Maryland to Florida to assorted Caribbean locales — some of which, thankfully, tourists will never see — Grisham transforms his once straightforward tale into an elaborate caper that is ingenious and surprising. At times, the convoluted scheme that gradually unfolds seems almost too elaborate, too dependent on crucial but problematic events, any one of which could cause Bannister/Baldwin’s complex scenario to collapse. But like his protagonist, Grisham makes it work, holding the pieces together with a headlong narrative energy that rarely, if ever, flags. The result is a satisfying, deeply engrossing thriller in which different forms of justice are ultimately served.

Eram Shakeel


Corporate Carnival

Corporate CarnivalP G Bhaskar is a Chartered Accountant by profession. He left India for Dubai in 1992 and is settled there with his wife and kids. “Corporate Carnival” is his second hand at writing, the first being-“Jack Patel’s Dubai dreams”.

A former colleague offers Jack Patel and his best friend, Kitch a job with a conservative British bank in Dubai. But changes are afoot at the bank. Power struggles within a complex and changing hierarchy ensure a series of problems for young Jack. The story follows the life of these two friends through the inside business of banking. The story shuttles around Dubai, Africa and Chennai hopping from one situation to the other. The book is laced with unimaginable yet funny episodes that will bring about a breezy smile in the readers face. And hence I, recommend this book for a one-time feel good reading.

Eram Shakeel



BloodlineSidney Sheldon was an Academy Award-winning American writer. His best-selling novels such as Master of the Game (1982), The Other Side of Midnight (1973) and Rage of Angels (1980). He is the seventh bestselling writer of all time.

It is a very interesting and passionate novel that it is very hard to keep the book down from reading. The author has maintained his standards or has rather taken a step higher in this novel. It includes various emotions such as revenge, love, compassion, trust, loyalty.

The story is about a girl Elizabeth Roffe who, just after her father’s death becomes the President of the multinational company called Roffe and Sons. She initially had no intentions to become the president of this company but wished that any  of her cousins, who hold the other shares of the company,  take up the post. All her cousins had some sort of financial crisis due to which they eagerly wanted to sell out their shares to public which was forbidden in the company.

Elizabeth later discovers that her father had been killed and that one of her cousins was trying to damage the reputation of the company in order to sell his shares to public. This makes her take revenge on him by tracking him down. But to her horror she realizes that she’s next on the murderer’s list. The story deals with how she tracks down the culprit and about her true love Rhys Williams and how she craves for her father’s love.

Jesline  Rose Joshy


My Sister’s Keeper

My Sister's KeeperJodi Lynn Picoult, the author of my sister’s keeper – is a well known figure amongst all the people in the reading circuit. She has written other books like Nineteen Minutes, The Pact and Second Glance. Her books provide a fascinating read to people of all ages. She is widely known for her keen insights into the hearts and minds of real people.

The book revolves around the life of a modern day family who struggle to support their cancer diagnosed daughter Kate, her sister Anna and brother Jessie. It is not until Anna is thirteen that they realise that the only way to save their daughter is to sacrifice her sister…

Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By the age of thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukaemia that has plagued her since childhood. The product of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate – a life and a role that she has never challenged…until now. Like most teenagers, Anna is beginning to question who she truly is. But unlike most teenagers, she has always been defined in terms of her sister and so. Anna makes a decision that for most would be unthinkable, a decision that will tear her family apart and have perhaps fatal consequences for the sister she loves. She decides to sue her parents over rights to her own body…

The story is intricately woven in a cob- web like fashion to fascinate the reader. The book is also irresistible. This is the emotional family story torn apart by conflicting needs and a passionate love that triumphs over human weakness. It examines what it means to be a good parent, a good person and a good sister. Jodi Picoult takes a controversial real-life situation with grace, wisdom and sensitivity to convert it into a nicely written story.

Shagun Kashyap


For One More Day

For One More DayMitch Albom, an American bestselling author, screenwriter, journalist, dramatist, and musician, is usually regarded for penning his thoughts and theories on afterlife. His magnum opus is considered to be Tuesdays with Morrie, Five People you meet in Heaven and For One More Day. Having achieved national recognition for his sports writing in the earlier part of his career, he is best known for his inspirational and heart touching stories.

Meet Charley “Chick” Benetto – an alcoholic, divorcee and a lost cause. Severely affected by his mother’s death, Chick hits the bottom line in life. The desire to die is triggered when he is not invited to his only child, Maria’s wedding. With no intention to live, he starts his journey to end his life, right where it all began.

The first time around he misses and flees to his old home- his suicide an apparent failure- only to see his mother, who had died eight years ago.

Chick has one more day with his loving mother and recalls all the times she stood up for him. He recalls how he let down his mother along every step in life. Life gives him one more day to patch things up with his mother…

The books epilogue describes how Chick, who is inspired by his experience to quit drinking and reconcile with his family, including daughter Maria. This book makes an important read and delivers moral ethics and values of a family to the society. In today’s fast paced world, the book provides a short, crisp and heart touching story. It also sends the message of mending relationships with our near and dear ones before it’s too late.

Shagun Kashyap