The Illicit Happiness Of Other People is Manu Joseph’s second novel, but I read him for the first time.
I picked up the book mainly for its wonderful title. Besides, I wanted to find out what and how Manu Joseph (who I know as a journalist, but recently got awarded for his fiction) actually writes.
It is about Unni Chacko, the weird cartoonist, who killed himself at the age of seventeen. But why did he do this? The novel revolves around this mystery as Ousep, Unni’s father, a journalist, conducts his long, crazy and relentless search and taps all possible sources to find out the cause of his son’s suicide.
Towards the end of the novel everything falls in places, and the reader knows about the cause, which is not very uncommon, but convincing.
Manu Joseph is a wonderful writer, and I must admit he fascinates me with his prose, intelligence and sensibilities. He never bores. Like any of today’s writers, he has his research part in this novel, but he incorporates it aptly with an effort though.
In an otherwise well- constructed narrative, the only thing that jars is the abysmal poverty of Chakao family. How come the family would be living in so poor condition while its man is a chief reporter with UNI, his drinking habit notwithstanding?