It’s entirely appropriate that Farhad J. Dadyburjor’s new book The Other Man was released in the same week as National Coming Out Day. The Other Man is a tale of love, lies and a son’s sense of duty in a society where appearances are everything, and duty to family is of utmost importance. It’s the story of a gay man who has to bend to the will of society even if it means marrying a woman he doesn’t love.
Ved Mehra has it all. His assistant refers to him as an Indian George Clooney and by all measures he’s successful: He’s a businessman who will someday inherit his father’s company, he’s devastatingly handsome and he’s one of the most desirable bachelors in Mumbai.
His only flaw is that he’s not married, so when his mother sets him up in an arranged marriage he agrees. The problem – he’s a closeted gay man in a country where homosexual relationships are against the law.
I never know what to expect when I start a new book. I read a lot of books and admittedly I speed through some more than others. What I realized with The Other Man is that I didn’t want to read it quickly. It’s so engaging and easy to escape into that I found myself slowing my pace and really taking time to enjoy Ved’s story.
There’s something that’s simultaneously powerful and melancholy about Ved’s story because it’s not unique and though it’s a work of fiction there are plenty of people out there who have experienced or are experiencing something similar. They are living a lie because society and their families (or a combination of both) tell them that it’s what must happen.
Dadyburjor creates a fully immersive, full-sensory experience through his writing. It’s very easy to fall into Ved’s world. You can feel his stress as he works impossible hours. You can feel the anxiety and tension that comes every time his mother calls. You can feel the guilt and remorse he feels about keeping such a huge secret from his fiancee and his family. And you can feel how upsetting it is for Ved to live a lie.The Other Man, like James Sie’s All Kinds of Other, is a triumph of LGBTQIA+ literature. It’s a thought provoking must-read book that should be on your To Be Read list.