Shortlisted for the 2012 Commonwealth Book Prize.
There's nothing more dangerous than a book no one has read.
All that Patros Patranobis wants is to be left alone - to live his ordinary, unremarkable life with Rose, the woman he has not married, and Tippy, the son he has not fathered. But one day, he receives a mysterious, metal-bound book, a bequest from a long-dead ancestor. In its pages, he is told, are answers to all the world's problems. There's only one hitch: The Book of Answers is locked. Its key is hidden somewhere in Kerala.
But Patros doesn't really want to make the world a better place. Eager to be rid of this burdensome book, he sells it to a junk shop. And that is when the madness begins. Within months, The Book of Answers reappears in the hands of a godman claiming that through it, God speaks to him. The godman is soon advising the most powerful politician in the land, the ruthless Ishwar Prasad. Citing The Book of Answers as the divine source, Ishwar Prasad unleashes a slew of Orwellian laws.
The India 50-50 Law proposes dividing the country into two, with rich states in one cluster and poor in the other.
The Happiness Tax imposes a levy on sexual intercourse, replete with amnesty schemes for voluntary disclosure, and tax havens where you can have sex for nothing.
The FYI Act legalizes cheating in examinations making it mandatory for answers to exam questions to be made available all over the campus.
Trivial Courts are set up all over the land, where anyone may accuse anyone else of anything, and be judged and sentenced by anyone with a little free time that morning. Soon the country is squabbling.
A Grey Area is set up to quarantine people who think too much.
A Ministry of Errors and Regrets is formed, to apologize in public each time the government announces yet another atrocious measure.
Pushed by his friends and Rose, Patros tries to undo the harm he has unleashed by his sale of the book but only gets embroiled deeper in intrigue and politics. In the process, he becomes a reluctant hero to an embattled and confused nation. Finally, he is left with no option but to make the journey to Kerala in search of the key. But nothing could have prepared him for what he finds there.
The Book of Answers is an irrepressible satire about manipulation and corruption in governance, and the confusion and havoc that the powerful can wilfully unleash in an unreflective society.