Book review | The Anger of Saintly Men by Anubha Yadav


Author: Anubha Yadav

Genre: Literary fiction

No. of pages: 191

Published by: Bee Books

Published on: 8th March 2021

Format: Hardcover

My rating: ★★★★★

The Anger of Saintly Men is the story of three brothers, Sonu, Anu and Vicky, growing up in the 90s. A new decade has started. Maine Pyar Kiya has just been released. Young boys are having wet dreams after imagining what Salman Khan saw when Bhagyashree undraped herself for him on that windy night. The three brothers have just moved to their new, first and last home, which they name, Chuhedani. The Anger of Saintly Men explores how little boys are made men in Indian households. A story of sexual awakening, heartbreak and growing up under the shadow of India's first wave of liberalisation. Told with compassion, the book delves deep into issues of masculinity, caste, class, homophobia and shame. The Anger of Saintly Men questions systems which have crushed men's expectations, desires & hopes for centuries. One of the first novels that compels us to think on how we raise men and patriarchy's deep grip on men's lives.

Anubha Yadav's The Anger of Saintly Men takes you to men's world. Written through the lives of three brothers - Sonu, Anu and Vicky - Yadav explores the infamous phrase 'men will be men.' 

The story starts from the eldest son of the Singh family - Sonu's perspective - What he has experienced as the eldest, his fantasies of being with a woman crushed by his even vigorous younger brother Anu, slight hints of sibling rivalry caused by this issue and his struggles as a man who's also a victim to patriarchy. The second and final part of the book is written from Anu and Vicky's perspective, respectively. 

You can essentially imagine how the book is going to turn out if it starts with a graphic scene of a man scratching his crotch. Sonu talks about his life in the Chuhedani - a tiny house in the slums, where the three brothers shared an even tinier room with the puja ghar. The boys have gone through all - sexual awakening and abuse, homophobia and toxic masculinity, patriarchy and misogyny - both as children and as adults.

Not only does Yadav traverses issues of manhood through these three brothers' perspective, but also through the men in these three men's lives. I'm finding it really hard to talk about this book, because it talks about such a myriad of issues, I wouldn't be able to give justice to it through just one review. Considering that the 1990's were a wild time, and men have always been vying to establish their manliness - The Anger of Saintly Men has its fair share of fundamentally revolting affairs for us to read. From testosterone-driven ideals to heartbreak, the men of The Anger of Saintly Men has faced it all. 

Anubha Yadav's debut novel has hit a century in my heart. There's no plot in the book. It's a collection of stories from the Singh brothers' lives. But these stories thread together to give us a bigger picture of these brothers - their upbringing in a patriarchal house, their ways in the world where there is a dire need to be known, and ultimately how these brothers place themselves in the society. And this is one book I will vehemently recommend to you. Pick it up... now more than ever. 

Anubha Yadav has her way with her words. It's alluring, it's addictive, and it works its way through your imagination. You can see vividly in your mind's eyes how the story unfolds. The narration goes back and forth between first person and second person. And to be honest, it adds a certain flair to the story. As Yadav uses a below middle class family as the representatives of the story, she does do justice in giving them the most realistic representation. 

I received a copy of the book in exchange of an honest and unbiased review. 


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