The Better Man (book)

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The Better Man is a novel by Anita Nair.[1] It is set in the northern part of Kerala, India, a region known as Malabar under the British Raj.


Mukundan, retired from government service, returns to the village of Kaikurussi where he was born. He is upset, viewing his life as a failure. He meets "One-screw-loose-Bhasi", a local eccentric, a housepainter and an inventor of an odd system of alternative medicine. He helps Mukundan transform himself.[1]

Then Power House Ramakrishnan, a locally important man, decides to build a Community hall, and selects Bhasi's land. He threatens to destroy Bhasi's business if he refuses to sell the land. Mukundan intends to save Bhasi's land but is flattered into accepting membership on the project committee.[1]

Then Mukundan's father dies, and he undergoes a deeper transformation.[1]

Critical reaction[edit]

Dhanyasree M, writing in OneIndia, says "A tone of wistful melancholy and incidents with a touch of keenly observed comedy makes the characterization in this novel more special. Her vivid knowledge on the pulse of Kerala can be well observed in this novel. This novel is a must read for anyone who wants to know the true pulse of Indian life."[2]

Kit Reed, writing in The New York Times, says "A genial, meandering tale filled with false alarms and diversions, The Better Man is slowed by loops in the story, by abandoned threads of plot. Charming as it is, the novel gathers momentum only at the end, when Bhasi and Mukundan find themselves at odds just in time for the drama of conflict and resolution."[3]

The Literary Review column of The Hindu said "The Better Man had all the right ingredients according to the critics. Today, with her second book Ladies Coupe, one would imagine ANITA NAIR would have achieved the same results. Critics have opined otherwise..."[4]

Another review in The Hindu said "Anita Nair's first book, The Better Man, was a finely structured novel set in a small Kerala village. Mukundan, her hero, returns to the village, hoping to exorcise bitter memories. Anita Nair not only has a wonderful knowledge of life in the village, but shows an almost Dostoevskian feeling for the undercurrents of consciousness, as Mukundan seeks and finds redemption."[5]


  1. ^ a b c d Nair, Anita. "The Better Man- A Novel by Anita Nair". Anita Nair web site. Retrieved 6 March 2010. 
  2. ^ Dhanyasree M (May 2008). "The Better Man: Review On Anita Nair's Novel". OneIndia. Retrieved 6 March 2010. 
  3. ^ Reed, Kit (August 13, 2000). "Faith Healer". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 March 2010. 
  4. ^ "Writing for oneself". The Hindu. December 2, 2001. Retrieved 6 March 2010. 
  5. ^ "Fellow Travellers". The Hindu. June 17, 2001. Retrieved 6 March 2010. 

External links[edit]