Sometimes, we just need a laugh. Luckily for us, we live in India, where there’s enough madness and hilarity to fill a lifetime with laughter. The peculiarities of life in this country have inspired countless creative people through the ages to come up with hilarious tales portraying the “Indian condition” and these are the best antidote for when you’re feeling down. And nobody does it better than a novelist, so here are some of the funniest Indian novels to have ever been published.
Serious Men, Manu Joseph
Caste is at the centre of Joseph’s hilarious tale of conflict, aspiration and sweet revenge. Serious Men’s anti-hero, Ayyan Mani, is a Dalit who works at the prestigious Institute of Theory and Research as a personal assistant, but he’s filled with resentment at the Institute’s retinue of what he believes are undeserving Brahmin scientists. The wit is razor-sharp, and there will be times when you will have to put the book down because you can’t breathe for laughing so hard. And if you’ve been feeling the urge to scribble something wickedly mischievous on the next blackboard you see, we don’t blame you.
The Great Indian Novel, Shashi Tharoor
When he isn’t confounding us with his impressive vocabulary on Twitter, or fending off concerned citizens who beg him to run for the office of prime minister, Shashi Tharoor proves to be one of the finest writers we have. His political satire, The Great Indian Novel is proof of that. By taking the Mahabharat as the blueprint and then populating it with a contemporary cast of political and public figures, Tharoor manages to lampoon everything we hold sacred.
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The Inscrutable Americans, Anurag Mathur
The tale of the unassuming Gopal Kumar, who goes to the United States for his college education, is so relatable to any Indian who’s been abroad that many of the tropes from the novel have gone on to become mainstays in our comedic portrayals of college life abroad. From race to religion and modernity to sex, we see the baffling world around Gopal through his disbelieving eyes. Some critics say that the author’s focus on sex is a bit extreme, but we say give the guy a break – after all, Mathur published this hilarious novel in 1991, just before liberalisation hit India. Pun intended.
Dork: The Incredible Adventures of Robin ‘Einstein’ Varghese, Sidin Vadukut
Written by the managing editor of economic heavyweight Livemint.com, Dork is the hilarious, yet thought-provoking story of Robin ‘Einstein’ Varghese, a naïve management graduate who cannot seem to understand the nuances of office culture. Based on Vadukut’s own experiences during his student years at NIT-Trichy and IIM Ahmedabad as well as his working life in Mumbai, the book follows Varghese’s many laughter-inducing adventures.
Mrs Funnybones, Twinkle Khanna
There isn’t a whole lot for women in India to laugh about these days, but Khanna manages to draw parallels between her privileged life as a star and the lives of normal Indian women in ways that are unexpectedly relatable and hilarious. The book is a collection of anecdotes, each one more laughter-inducing than the one before, which subversively causes the reader to dwell on the plight of the average Indian woman. Khanna’s voice is light and cheerful through it all, making this the perfect read for when you’re stressed out and need a quick laugh.
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