ORDINARY PEOPLE FACE EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES: MISS LAILA, ARMED AND DANGEROUS OUT THIS THURSDAY

MISS LAILA by Manu Joseph, Myriad FINAL.jpg

MISS LAILA, ARMED AND DANGEROUS by Manu Joseph is out on May 17 with Myriad in paperback and ebook as their lead novel for 2018. As Zoë Heller has said: ‘Manu Joseph's new novel is a daring, page-turning thriller, filled with anger and wit and some of the loveliest sentences you will read this year.’ For a tantalising taster, you can hear Manu read from the novel and talk about it (from Bangalore) with Mariella Frostrup on BBC Open Book here.

Myriad won a closely-fought auction for Manu’s insightful and provocative new novel, buying UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding India and Canada, from Isobel Dixon and fast-tracking its publication to May. Publishing Director Candida Lacey said, ‘MISS LAILA, ARMED AND DANGEROUS is a cracking novel. It is a joy to read, and every bit as beguiling and surprising as its title. Cunning, sympathetic and fiercely original, it is a perfect fit for the ambitious and diverse list of literary fiction we’re developing with our partners at New Internationalist. We’re thrilled and very proud to be publishing such a magnificent and deservedly lauded novelist.’ 

Manu said: ‘Fiction cannot compete with real India. But an Indian novelist tries to make an honourable match of it. In the reactions of Candida Lacey and Myriad, I feel I may have come close. I feel blessed to find a British publisher who is able to see both the Indianness of the novel and the universality of its themes.’

Isobel said: ‘I was thrilled to hear about Myriad's collaboration with New Internationalist, as I've long admired Candida Lacey's publishing and think this is a perfect partnership – and now Manu Joseph's profound, wry and fierce novel has found a perfect UK home.’

On the day that Hindu nationalists and their controversial leader have won a spectacular election victory, a large apartment building collapses in Mumbai. The rescue operation finds a single survivor trapped under a beam. The only person able to reach him is Akhila Iyer, a medical student who is also a notorious social media prankster. Small enough to crawl along to administer medicine as rescuers try to dig him out, she finds him mumbling in delirium that two people are on their way to carry out a terror attack. Elsewhere, a young intelligence agent, Mukundan, is assigned to shadow the two terror suspects, one of whom is the teenage Laila, the sweetheart of her street. Time is running out.

MISS LAILA, ARMED AND DANGEROUS is a gripping chase novel that poses searching questions about the workings of power and its effects on the ordinary people — the watchers and the followers, and those who are trapped when buildings fall. Mariella Frostrup speaks of the novel’s ‘searing prose’ and Ben East in the Observer called it ‘caustic, comic and determinedly controversial’, talking of ‘the thriller lurking beneath it’. HarperCollins India published in India in 2017 and Podium publish the Dutch edition. Manu Joseph will be in the UK for publicity later this year, and will also take up a writer’s residency in Amsterdam.

Manu Joseph lives in Delhi and is a columnist for The Mint Lounge. He used to write the ‘Letter from India’ column for The International New York Times. His debut novel SERIOUS MEN (2010) won The Hindu Literary Prize and the PEN/Open Book Award, and was shortlisted for The Man Asian Literary Prize, the regional Commonwealth Prize and the PG Wodehouse Prize for the Best Comic Novel. His second novel THE ILLICIT HAPPINESS OF OTHER PEOPLE (2012) was shortlisted for the Hindu Prize and longlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature and IMPAC Dublin Prize for Literature. Both the novels have been translated into several languages.

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Praise for MISS LAILA, ARMED AND DANGEROUS:

‘Manu Joseph's new novel is a daring, page-turning thriller, filled with anger and wit and some of the loveliest sentences you will read this year’— Zoë Heller

‘Stylish and deceptively witty… one of most engaging and insightful interpreters of our times… a page-turning thriller that poses searching questions about the workings of power and its effects on the ordinary people.’ — Deirdre Falvey, The Irish Times

‘The latest satirical novel from Manu Joseph, an Indian journalist, is an unflinching portrait of his country... MISS LAILA, ARMED AND DANGEROUS sits comfortably on the bestseller shelves of bookshops across the country.’ — The Economist

‘Manu Joseph’s thrilling third novel casts a keen eye on not just law enforcement officials and politicians in flared shorts, but also investigative journalists, environmental activists and the good folks.’ — Mint

‘Manu lampoons the entire system- not just politicians, the bureaucracy, law enforcement officials and lackeys, but investigative journalists, social activists, and indeed the common man.’ — The Hans India