Miss Laila, Armed and Dangerous by Manu Joseph
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I’d picked this up last year before setting out to Kolkata Literary Meet 2018. Had started with it and then shelved it after returning to Bombay. It’s been on my mind for a bit and then over the weekend I crash read it. I say crash read it because I steeled myself from the constant panic attacks I was going through. Most of the storyline is located inside a 30ft deep tunnel where the protagonist Akhila Iyer is crawling in and out to save a man buried under debris from a building collapse. Writing about it is bringing back the jitters. If I keep my claustrophobia aside, I loved the book.
I haven’t read any other work by Manu Joseph so won’t be able to compare his style or tell his readers whether the style of writing was very much him. For me, it was a satire on modern India at its best, much like what Shashi Tharoor tried to achieve with his The Great Indian Novel. Funny, forthright, yet sensitive, the book, in the end, leaves you with hope. It tells you when to lie low and when to raise your voice. How can you make a difference when your voice is constantly quelled. You wait. There is a paragraph which is repeated in the book about the baffled face of an Indian when he is shocked by the most logical outcome of his actions. I think I would face the panic attacks again to just read that in context all over again.
Have you read the book or any other by Manu Joseph? Let me know what you thought.