In The Other Man (2021) by Farhad Dadyburjor, Ved, the closeted heir to his father’s Mumbai business empire, gets himself into trouble when he submits to the pressure to get married to a woman.
Ved’s work is his life; he lives with his father and avoids his mother because she reminds him at every opportunity that he should be married so she can have grandchildren. But he is still reeling from a breakup several years ago, when he was rejected so his secret boyfriend could marry a woman. But he is still in the closet, afraid of disappointing his parents.
Lonely, he agrees to meet Disha Kapoor, a wealthy young woman who was educated in New York as a fashion designer. They become great friends, and mostly through inertia, become engaged and then the planning for their arranged marriage begins. At the same time, he becomes friendly with an American on a business trip in Mumbai–Carlos Silva–from a gay dating app. Carlos doesn’t seem to just want a hookup, but seems to want a friend to hang out with.
Now Ved is really stuck–he’s unable to tell Disha the truth–that he’s gay, and he’s unable to tell Carlos that he’s engaged to a woman. Will he finally break free from the pressure so that he can finally be himself? This part does seem to drag on a bit–I don’t have much patience for characters that get themselves into trouble like this when they should have known better.
Unfortunately, it’s full of anti-fat bias. Ved describes himself as having been a very fat little boy, as if this fact is the root of his problems and poor self-image. He compulsively goes to the gym, and binges on ice cream when he’s depressed. I would have enjoyed the book much more if the author had avoided these anti-fat tropes.