The Ministry of Utmost Happiness
A moving new novel-the first since the author's Booker-Prize winning, internationally celebrated debut, The God of Small Things, went on to become a beloved best seller and enduring classic.The Ministry of Utmost Happiness transports us across a subcontinent on a journey of many years. It takes us deep into the lives of its gloriously rendered characters, each of them in search of a place of safety - in search of meaning, and of love.In a graveyard outside the walls of Old Delhi, a resident unrolls a threadbare Persian carpet. On a concrete sidewalk, a baby suddenly appears, just after midnight. In a snowy valley, a bereaved father writes a letter to his five-year-old daughter about the people who came to her funeral. In a second-floor apartment, a lone woman chain-smokes as she reads through her old notebooks. At the Jannat Guest House, two people who have known each other all their lives sleep with their arms wrapped around each other, as though they have just met.A braided narrative of astonishing force and originality, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is at once a love story and a provocation-a novel as inventive as it is emotionally engaging. It is told with a whisper, in a shout, through joyous tears and sometimes with a bitter laugh. Its heroes, both present and departed, have been broken by the world we live in-and then mended by love. For this reason, they will never surrender.How to tell a shattered story?By slowly becoming everybody.No.By slowly becoming everything.Humane and sensuous, beautifully told, this extraordinary novel demonstrates on every page the miracle of Arundhati Roy's storytelling gifts.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness Details

TitleThe Ministry of Utmost Happiness
Author
FormatHardcover
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJun 1st, 2017
PublisherPenguin India
ISBN067008963X
ISBN-139780670089635
Number of pages464 pages
Rating
GenreFiction, Cultural, India, Literary Fiction, Contemporary, Adult, Adult Fiction, Asian Literature, Indian Literature, Novels, Asia

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness Review

  • Seemita
    May 30, 2017
    [Originally appeared here: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/li...]How does a lament sound? Like a distorted sonorous wave? Hitting the crest with a shrill cry and falling to quietude with mangled whimpers? Or like a prolonged stream of soiled garble, comprehensible only to its beholder?I don't know on which note of the spectrum this book might fit in, but I do know that this book is a lament - lament on the daily struggles for (dignified) survival borne by the scarred populace of war-torn Kash [Originally appeared here: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/li...]How does a lament sound? Like a distorted sonorous wave? Hitting the crest with a shrill cry and falling to quietude with mangled whimpers? Or like a prolonged stream of soiled garble, comprehensible only to its beholder?I don't know on which note of the spectrum this book might fit in, but I do know that this book is a lament - lament on the daily struggles for (dignified) survival borne by the scarred populace of war-torn Kashmir, which unfortunately I can't talk of in past tense, and the marginalized of the society (taking the transgender as the pivotal link).The book, from where I see, is about two characters - A transgender, Anjum and a riot victim, Tilottama. Anjum, born Aftab in Old Delhi but discarded by her family for socially- unacceptable biological makeup, is adopted by a whore-house. She lives a good part of her life here before shifting her residence to a graveyard, courtesy a grave altercation related to adoption and rearing of a girl child. Tilottama, on the other hand, begins as a firebrand member of the youth brigade in a posh South Delhi locality but eventually drifts, amid three of her friends and her own dichotomies, to Kashmir and the city's deep, unknown, frequently fatal, alleys. How life, with her own surprises and shocks, brings the two together rounds up the story.This book, only second from Roy's stable in the last twenty years, retains the metaphorical music that she used to fair rapture in her first book. The descriptions, spring to life with her subtle touch, and she, almost, looks to have done that effortlessly. But regardless of what admonition and punishment awaited him, Aftab would return to his post stubbornly, day after day. It was the only place in his world where he felt the air made way for him. When he arrived, it seemed to shift, to slide over, like a school friend making room for him on a classroom bench. Roy's characteristic insight into her world's props and their subtle breaths is amply visible. She weaves intricate patterns, just like the stunning Kashmiri carpets she refers to couple of times, around her characters and one gets to see a motley crew doing their part well. The three friends, all of them men, who walk in and out of Tilo's life, represent the various facets of the societal fabric Roy wishes to highlight - Biplab is a senior officer in Intelligence Bureau, Naga is an incendiary journalist and Musa, an activist or terrorist (depending on the way you would like to see). She sensed that in some strange tangential way, he needed her shade as much as she needed his. And she had learned from experience that Need was a warehouse that could accommodate a considerable amount of cruelty. But she gets carried away. She touches upon issues of untouchability and gender divide, fanaticism and terrorism, but they emerge only as matter-of-factly. There are long stretches of pages which are dedicated to the haunting memories of Tilottama, which, at first grab our hearts and hold them in their throes, but soon, they become a necessary vent which loses both on emotional as well as novelty quotient. Anjum, in particular, is crafted with a lot of fragility and I would have loved to read a little more about her but Roy had another strong motive to accommodate. Those who are familiar with her political stances, which she has diligently championed across the various articles, non-fiction works and speeches she has put forward, would detect that a lot in this book comes shrouded in her disdain towards the state machinery and its administrators. Place as she might her contempt amid very many chapters, it comes straight out, and with a vengeance. The military establishments, too, come under attack and she holds very few guns back in lambasting their integrity. While she visibly tones down in the second half through the long monologues emanating from Biplab's hours of prophecy, she doesn't quite miss the diatribe train to dispatch her venom. Perhaps, that's why, even for someone fairly apolitical as I, the work didn't pass by without glaring its political face at close proximity to me.Those viewing the work from a political prism will mostly react in an emphatic manner - whether in support or opposition will depend on their political inclinations. But those looking from an emotional prism will also not be disappointed - she amalgamates the calm and the turbulent of her world with experienced rendition. Normality in our part of the world is a bit like a boiled egg: its humdrum surface conceals at its heart a yolk of egregious violence. In battle , Musa told Tilo, enemies can't break your spirit, only friends can. The book teeters over its bumpy rides with seething heart and clamped teeth, and comes to a standstill in the culminating chapters where a certain ray of hope and perpetuity leaps into the air. The quietness of the shikara stands in stark contrast to the rippling graveyard that is celebrating a wedding, and one doesn't still know where the lament erupted from and where it died down. Or if it is still wailing.[Note: Thanks to Netgalley, Arundhati Roy and Penguin Books (UK) for providing me an ARC.]--- Also on my blog.
    more
  • Ron Charles
    May 30, 2017
    Truly, this is a remarkable creation, a story both intimate and international, swelling with comedy and outrage, a tale that cradles the world’s most fragile people even while it assaults the Subcontinent’s most brutal villains.It will not convert Roy’s political enemies, but it will surely blast past them. Here are sentences that feel athletic enough to sprint on for pages, feinting in different directions at once, dropping disparate allusions, tossing off witty asides, refracting competing iro Truly, this is a remarkable creation, a story both intimate and international, swelling with comedy and outrage, a tale that cradles the world’s most fragile people even while it assaults the Subcontinent’s most brutal villains.It will not convert Roy’s political enemies, but it will surely blast past them. Here are sentences that feel athletic enough to sprint on for pages, feinting in different directions at once, dropping disparate allusions, tossing off witty asides, refracting competing ironies. This is writing that swirls so hypnotically that it doesn’t feel like words on paper so much as ink in water. Every paragraph dares you to keep up, forcing you finally to stop asking questions, to stop grasping for chronology and just. . . . To read the rest of this review, go The Washington Post:https://www.washingtonpost.com/entert...
    more
  • Nick
    April 7, 2017
    Pre-Read: This is one of those situations where I am trying desperately not to build up an insane amount of hype for this novel. I loved Arundhati Roy’s first novel, The God of Small Things, and have been waiting for her to publish a second for some time. Now, after years of waiting, finally, a second novel! And the last thing I would want — the last thing any of us would want — would be to build up my anticipation to such a great level that the novel could not help but disappoint. In a sense, t Pre-Read: This is one of those situations where I am trying desperately not to build up an insane amount of hype for this novel. I loved Arundhati Roy’s first novel, The God of Small Things, and have been waiting for her to publish a second for some time. Now, after years of waiting, finally, a second novel! And the last thing I would want — the last thing any of us would want — would be to build up my anticipation to such a great level that the novel could not help but disappoint. In a sense, this reminds me of A BRIGHTER SUMMER DAY, Taiwanese-director Edward Yang’s 1991 film which was praised endlessly, yet was unavailable in the US — outside of less-than-stellar quality rips with dubious subtitles — until Criterion (all hail, Criterion!) finally released the film in 2016. I had heard of the picture around the summer of 2001, so that’s 15 years of hype and build-up. Fortunately, the picture surpassed all of my wildest hopes and expectations (if any of you reading this haven’t seen A BRIGHTER SUMMER DAY, you really should, and right this second). It is my hope that the same will happen here. We’ll see.
    more
  • Apoorva
    February 21, 2017
    Arundhati Roy is here to save us all.
  • Latkins
    March 30, 2017
    This book is well worth the 20 year wait since The God Of Small Things. Essentially, it's about outsiders living on the fringes of Indian society in Delhi and Kashmir. It's also a profound love story. I won't say any more about it, as it's embargoed until May, but it is brilliant!
    more
  • Arnav Sinha
    May 28, 2017
    I was in school in 1997-98, living in a small township. Most of my reading was limited to the age-appropriate fare on offer at our school library, which I had far outgrown (and read twice over). All of a sudden, this new book by an unheard of Indian author was being covered by the print media (and the one TV news program), and it felt like a good bet to spend my hard-earned pocket money on. The hardcover cost about Rs. 400, which seemed like a big amount for someone who had only bought 2nd-hand I was in school in 1997-98, living in a small township. Most of my reading was limited to the age-appropriate fare on offer at our school library, which I had far outgrown (and read twice over). All of a sudden, this new book by an unheard of Indian author was being covered by the print media (and the one TV news program), and it felt like a good bet to spend my hard-earned pocket money on. The hardcover cost about Rs. 400, which seemed like a big amount for someone who had only bought 2nd-hand Archie comic books before that. In my most impulsive purchase till then, I went ahead and bought TGoST in my next visit to the nearest town. I started reading the book right there while waiting for my parents to get their own (non-book-related) shopping done, continued to read through most of the lunch, and on our trip back home, and late into the night. I cried when Ammu said 'Naaley'. Partly because the book had ended. Partly because nothing I had read had ever hit me so hard before that. Not much has since then either. I have loved Arundhati Roy's first and, for a long time, only work of fiction deeply. It's the only novel I have read several times, and probably loved it more each time I have read it. It was the book that sustained me when I lived the life of a hermit preparing for my college entrance exams. That precious copy I had bought in school was gifted to my closest friend in engineering college. A number of other copies were bought after that and gifted to people dear to me. Heck, it was even my topic when I prepared for a version of Mastermind for our college quizzing club. And I tend to judge people often by whether they like the book or not.So this 20-year wait for her next novel has been excruciatingly long. From what I have figured over this period from her nonfiction writing, even if she had written a book with a blindfold on, I would have found it difficult to completely dislike it.With that hideously long preamble done, let me happily state that I mostly loved this novel too. Her crazy word play, those lovingly constructed characters, their heart-breaking relationships, surviving and not surviving through what time, geography and the Indian Government throw at them, are all there. At over 400 pages, it is not a short novel by any standards, but my interest never flagged (big deal for me) and I finished it in one sitting (even bigger deal).(I don't talk about the story itself, but talk about the basic themes, but some readers might find even that a spoiler this early in the book's release history, so beware.)The novel starts off in Old Delhi and spends a long time with a group of kinnars ('eunuchs' would probably be the literal, but impolite, translation). And then almost suddenly changes track and moves to Kashmir, with another set of characters. As one would expect, it all ties up eventually, but I would have liked to spend more time with the Delhi crowd (probably the only time I would say that about any Delhi crowd). In any case, members of the entire cast, even the least important ones, are beautifully realized. (Like Ammu in TGoST, there is a prominent character here too inspired in many ways by Roy herself.) This, I feel, is Roy's great strength. No matter how idiosyncratic the characters might be, they seem way too real, like you know them, and so, are worth caring for. Roy's even greater strength is the relationships. Because, like the previous novel, this one is also primarily about love. Love in its many many weird manifestations, between humans, humans and animals, humans and dead humans, humans and dead animals, and well you get the idea. I would like to swear that I have grown older in the last 20 years, less susceptible to those tear-jerking tricks that authors employ. But like Frank Capra movies, Ms Roy's writing does some things that I can't explain. So I will remain a fanboy for now. Readers strongly opposed to Roy's political views might have a more difficult task at their hands with this book though, because the novel covers the whole gamut of issues dear to her - Kashmir (the main plot), naxalism, capitalism, casteism, Gujarat riots, 1984 riots, rise of Hindu nationalism, and maybe more - and generally takes a stand not conforming to the widely held middle and upper class, 'mainland', view prevalent these days in India. Even for me, who appreciates Roy's contrarian stands, without always completely agreeing with them, the novel seemed to edge very close to becoming a propaganda tool first and a novel as an afterthought in places. Heck, she even uses the phrase 'algebra of infinite justice' at a point. Some of her other book titles might also find mention, but I was not looking closely.There are unflattering depictions of characters based on AB Vajpayee, Manmohan Singh, Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal. And, of course, Roy's favorite Gujarat's Lalla, who happens to be a very popular PM currently. For these reasons, it won't be surprising if in the way things are handled these days (in India and in many other parts of the world), there would be widespread criticism of the book (some nutcase might even call for its banning!) by many who haven't even read it. We tend to be particularly sensitive to how India is portrayed in front of foreigners, and this litany of accusations (which is the only thing many might see here), this criticism of the 'stupidification' of the country, might seem like too much bad PR by a book that is bound to be feted and translated all over. That is, in fact, the only reason why these issues would antagonize most Indians. Otherwise, partly because these issues have been raised much too often already by the media and other authors, and partly because those who will generally read the book are fortunate to lead fairly comfortable lives, we have long become immune to them.
    more
  • Roman Clodia
    May 12, 2017
    Vast and sprawling, this is a difficult, labyrinthine read of stories within stories. There are moments of brilliance, of a kind of breathless hush of emotion between people, countered by long sections of boredom. Parts of the story speak to us today with their concerns for the politics of violence and the rhetoric of nationalism, others feel akin to fairy tales. Roy is uncompromising in her references and untranslated quotations which can make this difficult for her readers depending on their o Vast and sprawling, this is a difficult, labyrinthine read of stories within stories. There are moments of brilliance, of a kind of breathless hush of emotion between people, countered by long sections of boredom. Parts of the story speak to us today with their concerns for the politics of violence and the rhetoric of nationalism, others feel akin to fairy tales. Roy is uncompromising in her references and untranslated quotations which can make this difficult for her readers depending on their own cultural background. For me, I preferred the more focused and intimate The God of Small Things where the lush language and extravagant storytelling are reined in by the book's structure. Thanks to the publisher for an ARC via NetGalley
    more
  • Krista
    May 29, 2017
    The planes that flew into the tall buildings in America came as a boon to many in India too. The Poet-Prime Minister and several of his senior ministers were members of an old organization that had long believed that India was essentially a Hindu nation and that just as Pakistan had declared itself an Islamic Republic, India should declare itself a Hindu one. Some of its supporters and ideologues openly admired Hitler and compared the Muslims of India to the Jews of Germany. Now, suddenly, as h The planes that flew into the tall buildings in America came as a boon to many in India too. The Poet-Prime Minister and several of his senior ministers were members of an old organization that had long believed that India was essentially a Hindu nation and that just as Pakistan had declared itself an Islamic Republic, India should declare itself a Hindu one. Some of its supporters and ideologues openly admired Hitler and compared the Muslims of India to the Jews of Germany. Now, suddenly, as hostility towards Muslims grew, it began to seem to the Organization that the whole world was on its side. I read The God of Small Things when it came out, and as this was long before there was a Goodreads, I don't have a review or notes or supporting quotes but I do, strongly, remember this: I was thoroughly transported by Arundhati Roy's magical prose and ended that book in shameless tears. It has taken nearly twenty years for Roy to publish a second novel, but she has hardly been idle in all that time: As an activist and political essayist, Roy has written enough nonfiction to have been collected into five volumes; none of which I have read. Yet, it doesn't take much Googling around to see what issues have inspired Roy to write – anti-nuclear weapons, anti-globalisation, anti-American foreign policy, pro-environmentalism – and in particular, her focus seems to have been on Kashmiri independence (her views on which led to Roy being charged with sedition by her own government in 2010). The Ministry of Utmost Happiness gives space to all of these issues – with a particular focus on the Kashmiri fight for independence – so in a way, this felt more like an effort to put information into the official record than a straightforward literary exercise. And because of that, my reaction is mixed: This is a fine (and likely important) work of witnessing, but not a novel of transporting and magical prose; despite blood and death and broken bodies, I was never brought to tears. As a character (Tilo) in the book says: I would like to write one of those sophisticated stories in which even though nothing much happens there's lots to write about. That can't be done in Kashmir. It's not sophisticated, what happens here. There's too much blood for good literature. After a later-day Prologue, Ministry opens upon a young mother, overjoyed by the birth of her first son. But examining his perfect little body, she discovers, to her horror, that tucked behind his boy-parts is a “small, unformed, but undoubtedly girl-part”. As this storyline develops and eventually leads to a home for Hijras – transgendered women who have a long history in Indian society (funny that I had never before made the connection to the legendary harem eunuchs) – I thought that I was reading one kind of book; a plotline I enjoyed very much last year in The Parcel. But halfway through Ministry, a second set of characters is introduced, and although everyone will come together in the end, the book becomes something different altogether.If one has to choose, then give me a Hindu fundamentalist any day over a Muslim one. It's true we did – we do – some terrible things in Kashmir, but...I mean, what the Pakistan Army did in East Pakistan – now that was a clear case of genocide. Open and shut. When the Indian Army liberated Bangladesh, the good old Kashmiris called it – still call it – “The Fall of Dhaka”. They aren't very good at other people's pain. But then, who is? The Baloch, who are being buggered by Pakistan, don't care about Kashmiris. The Bangladeshis who we liberated are hunting down Hindus. The good old communists call Stalin's Gulag “a necessary part of revolution”. The Americans are currently lecturing the Vietnamese about human rights. What we have on our hands is a species problem. None of us is exempt.In this second part, we are introduced to a casteless daughter of a Syrian Christian single-mother, S. Tilottama (“Tilo”; a character whose early biography mirrors Roy's own), who had met and befriended (and caused to fall in life-long love with her) three young men at college who would grow into professionals she could eventually call on when needed: Musa the Kashmiri militant who is, despite living mostly underground, Tilo's own true love; a Bengali intelligence agent, named Biplab Dasgupta, who will eventually come to sympathise with the insurgents; and Nagaraja Hariharan, a respected Tamil journalist who can provide Tilo cover. We also meet the Punjabi Sikh, Amrik Singh, who is a sadistic government agent and, briefly, the Telugu woman Revathy: a forest-dwelling Maoist who will become disillusioned by her own cause. I assume that the specificity of these ethnicities is to underline that India is no one monolithic culture (or religion), and this particular cast of characters allows for an examination of every issue that Roy has been writing about for the past twenty years. And based on this overview of the Indian political situation alone, it's easy to see what propels Roy to the “hysterics” her detractors have accused her of: Kashmir sits uneasily between India and Pakistan – two nuclear powers – and is claimed by each, leading to routine attacks and counterattacks; creeping global Islamophobia has justified the Indian government's attacks on its own Muslim population; a pivotal scene takes place during the 2002 Gujarat riots and Roy doesn't shy away from pointing out that the current Prime Minister of India (Narendra Modi, though unnamed in the book, and officially cleared of any wrongdoing) was at the time a local official known as “The Butcher of Gujarat”. From one character lamenting local soft drinks being put out of business by Coca-Cola to a farmer imagining what the view would be from his family's fields after the erection of a hydroelectric dam made a lake of their valley, it would seem that everything I've found through Googling Roy has made it into this book. Which just might make this more important to her than it is to me; more personal than universal. But still important. These days in Kashmir, you can be killed for surviving. As Tilo hints in that quote above, nothing much happens in this book, but everything happens in it. I was interested in all that I learned, but it doesn't really hang together as a novel. It's a valuable artefact, but the matter-of-fact stories of rape and murder and torture didn't move me. So ambivalent about this one. Still important.
    more
  • Book of the Month
    June 1, 2017
    Twenty years ago, Arundhati Roy wrote The God of Small Things, a novel that captivated readers around the globe. Now, two decades later, her second novel is here, and it’s worth the wait. In The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, Roy’s India is a place of both hope and despair, profound beauty and ugliness, comedy and tragedy. She masterfully weaves together the unforgettable stories of a few of the subcontinent’s denizens, creating an epic tale that is challenging in all the best ways, but also emin Twenty years ago, Arundhati Roy wrote The God of Small Things, a novel that captivated readers around the globe. Now, two decades later, her second novel is here, and it’s worth the wait. In The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, Roy’s India is a place of both hope and despair, profound beauty and ugliness, comedy and tragedy. She masterfully weaves together the unforgettable stories of a few of the subcontinent’s denizens, creating an epic tale that is challenging in all the best ways, but also eminently readable.— Book of the MonthRead more at https://www.bookofthemonth.com/the-mi...
    more
  • Jacki (Julia Flyte)
    May 10, 2017
    I so expected to love this book. I loved “God of Small Things” and several of my all-time favourite books are by Indian authors. So after approaching it full of anticipation and expectations, it pains me to say that I found it almost unreadable. Which is feel sure is more about me and my failure as a literary reader. But I did not “get” it. The book is about a disjointed trio on the margins of society, people who have no people, who come together and make a new home in a Delhi graveyard. Anjum i I so expected to love this book. I loved “God of Small Things” and several of my all-time favourite books are by Indian authors. So after approaching it full of anticipation and expectations, it pains me to say that I found it almost unreadable. Which is feel sure is more about me and my failure as a literary reader. But I did not “get” it. The book is about a disjointed trio on the margins of society, people who have no people, who come together and make a new home in a Delhi graveyard. Anjum is a hermaphrodite who considers herself a “counterfeit woman” and who longs to be a mother. Saddam Hussein hero-worships the dictator Saddam Hussein and has renamed himself in his honour. And Tilo’s great love is a Kashmiri terrorist. It’s an extremely disjointed novel, more like a collection of barely related stories that move backwards and forwards in time, which gradually weave themselves together to allow you to spot the common threads. Along the way we are introduced to dozens of characters and for almost every one we will be given their back story, whether it is relevant or not. There is a lot of “what happened” and not a lot of dialogue.Essentially this is a book without a plot and if you realise that going in, you’ll probably struggle less with it than I did. The writing is lovely: scenes are described in such a way that you’re there, you see what the characters are seeing. Even characters who make only a brief appearance are brought vividly to life. The instability in Kashmir and its effect on the people who live there is chillingly portrayed – when an ear infection means you could get shot because you can’t hear the instructions from the checkpoints.I finished it and I feel a sense of accomplishment for doing so, but would I recommend it? No not really.
    more
  • Debbie Burton-Peddle
    May 2, 2017
    Just won on Goodreads giveaways - Arundhati Roy's novel The Ministry of Utmost Happiness (Penguin Random House Canada). Very excited to read this once I receive it in the mail. I also plan to read The God of Small Things which won her the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 1997. :D*****This is a beautiful intertwining of narratives that find their way to each other over the course of time through states of political unrest in India (Old Dehli and Kashmir as central settings). The characters are lar Just won on Goodreads giveaways - Arundhati Roy's novel The Ministry of Utmost Happiness (Penguin Random House Canada). Very excited to read this once I receive it in the mail. I also plan to read The God of Small Things which won her the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 1997. :D*****This is a beautiful intertwining of narratives that find their way to each other over the course of time through states of political unrest in India (Old Dehli and Kashmir as central settings). The characters are larger than life - strong, vulnerable, passionate, committed to their causes and beliefs. You grieve with them. You rejoice with them. You are horrified by the suffering and pain, appalled by the hatred and misunderstandings endured daily.There are collisions of religion, castes, politics, race, and gender. War doesn't relent. It is a way of life. And of death. Life and death coexist as one. The graveyard is a focal point, a gateway that is honored and revered - where all living creatures and things coexist as one and the soul is the balance and connector of life and death. Where love is the mainstay that is all and conquers all. Arundhati Roy is a wordsmith, a brilliant composer to her symphony of words in storytelling. There were many sentences that I found myself wanting to read again, as the words impacted me in how they melded and how they spoke with brutal honesty and how very raw and poetic they were. Her words can paint a picture and draw emotion and empathy effortlessly.I feel that this is a book that can be read again and again. And for every time it is read, I'm sure the reader will gain something new and insightful from it. It feeds into the human spirit with hope and love and compassion. It sets the tone for what the world needs to be - a world of universal peace, equality, and love.
    more
  • Hannah
    April 12, 2017
    Arundhati Roy has come to save us all. Her fiction tells a truth like no other--its basis in the imaginary allows Roy to stare unrelentingly into the eyes of some of the most uncomfortable, inconvenient problems facing India (and the world) today. Her spectacularly spun, songlike, strange tale weaves together the unloved, the unwanted, the forgotten into a tapestry held together by understanding, empathy, and love. Roy reminds us, as we read THE MINISTRY OF UTMOST HAPPINESS, that all of us are i Arundhati Roy has come to save us all. Her fiction tells a truth like no other--its basis in the imaginary allows Roy to stare unrelentingly into the eyes of some of the most uncomfortable, inconvenient problems facing India (and the world) today. Her spectacularly spun, songlike, strange tale weaves together the unloved, the unwanted, the forgotten into a tapestry held together by understanding, empathy, and love. Roy reminds us, as we read THE MINISTRY OF UTMOST HAPPINESS, that all of us are interconnected--what we do to our enemies and our loved ones alike always, always comes back around to us.
    more
  • Vanessa
    June 2, 2017
    MY FAVOURITE AUTHOR OF ALL TIME, WHO WROTE MY FAVOURITE NOVEL OF ALL TIME, PUBLISHED A NEW BOOK AFTER 20 YEARS AND I DIDN'T KNOW?I bought it today and I'm so hyped !!!
  • Chaitra
    May 23, 2017
    I had no idea I could be this desperate and excited for something I didn't even know existed up until a few minutes ago.Come to me, you beautiful thing. ♡
  • Veena
    May 16, 2017
    4.5Can't say much. But this beats all the expectations!
  • Sian
    May 27, 2017
    I AM SOOOO EXCITEEEEED 🗣
  • Cathy Austin
    May 30, 2017
    I was lucky to be a Goodreads winner, the book I won The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by author Arundhati Roy. Roy won the Booker Prize for her The God of Small Things about 10 years ago. What delighted me about this new book, to be released in June, is the title. It promised something special. This new book, which I consumed in small parts, slowly savouring each weighty chapter before moving on to the next, is outstanding. Even more than that, this is an amazing novel.Right from the very first I was lucky to be a Goodreads winner, the book I won The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by author Arundhati Roy. Roy won the Booker Prize for her The God of Small Things about 10 years ago. What delighted me about this new book, to be released in June, is the title. It promised something special. This new book, which I consumed in small parts, slowly savouring each weighty chapter before moving on to the next, is outstanding. Even more than that, this is an amazing novel.Right from the very first pages Roy sets the place, the tone, the narrative and gives us a rich multi layered main voice in Aftab/Anjum. Anjum is a hijra, a female trapped in a male body, literally. Shunned, unlike her siblings, unlike her family (in the walled city of Delhi) or any friends, she longs to be what she actually is and joins the khwabgah stepping through a magical (to her) doorway where others like her live. What they all get up to and experience is aptly described with wit and sharp eyes of a clever writer. Roy brings it all quickly to life.Anjum is a remarkable character, immediately likeable. She is famous for being a hijra, known all over. She mothers a small girl that has become a part of their community but as Zainab grows, Anjum worries about her and decides leaving the khwabgah is best, wanders the city, the flyovers and the under flyovers and settles in the near abandoned graveyard between her parents graves. She rolls out her carpet and calls it home. Roy’s description transports you there; the bodies buried, who they were, snapshots in succinct sentences brings the colour, culture, history to vivid life. We discover what trauma Anjum lived through during a pilgrimage she made with a friend prior to her decision of leaving her community, a decision that changed her but life in the graveyard (a life of splendour, in a sense) gave her back to herself, that and the help of friends, of which she has many. She carries on, as flamboyant as ever.How best to describe the cast the endearing characters in this book? Quirky, unique, larger than life, authentic? All fit. There is Saddam Hussein (no, not that one, a young fellow who happens upon Anjum in the graves; they are instantly friends), Zainab, the adopted daughter; Garson Hobard, Tilo, Naga, Musa (all college friends, more or less); Commander Gulrez; Miss Udaya Jebeen. Layered in chapters, Anjum is central to the complete story, most of the others come and go, or stay; their lives and back stories are told bluntly, sharply and we read intently, surprised, shocked, riveted. How the characters are connected is brilliant, using a fine, very fine thread Roy stitches their lives together. It all comes together at the end...There is, in this novel, actually, at the core, an overwhelming abundance of politics, murders, gut-wrenching atrocities, and hardships, countless instances of sorrow. Take for instance, this passage, ‘Saddam told Sangeeta Madam that his name was Dayachand (because every idiot knew that in the prevailing climate a security guard with a Muslim name would have been considered a contradiction in terms).’ page 63 or ‘He described how once the mob had finished its business the cars switched their headlights on, all together, like an army convoy. How they splashed through puddles of his father’s blood as if it were rainwater, how the road looked like a street in the old city on the day of Bakr-Eid.’ page 91.Yet there are rare moments of bliss, ‘When the sun grew hot, they returned indoors where they continued to float through their lives like a pair of astronauts, defying gravity, limited only by the outer walls of their fuchsia spaceship with its pale pistachio doors.’ page 96Roy is in full command of the language of writing, she dazzles on so many pages (that I made note of but cannot possibly cite here) always cleanly, sharply so our senses our heightened to the nth degree. One passage, page 126 is completely eloquent, a passage about Saddam and Anjum. There are others, ‘It was autumn. The forest was heart-stoppingly beautiful in the way only a Himalayan forest can be. The Chinar trees had begun to turn color. The meadows were a coppery gold.’ page 171 I despaired of ever finding any, but, perhaps the beginning of happiness begins in the story of Tilo and Musa. Theirs is a painful, rich relationship, never mind that Musa is most likely what some would call a terrorist but only for the sake of Kashmir, for the saving of it from the real terrorists during that time period. There is the mysterious (we never know his real name) Garson Hobard who has been secretly in love with Tilo for years. His devotion is never revealed to her, but Tilo calls upon him near the end of the book and he responds. And he helps out Musa. Full circle I think Roy was aiming for, but I could be wrong. Little slivers of happiness are shining through...As to the politics, ‘And yet it would be a mistake to chalk this down to confusion. Their problem is not confusion, not really. It’s more like a terrible clarity that exists outside the language of modern geopolitics. All the protagonists on all sides of the conflict, especially us, exploited this fault line mercilessly. It made for a perfect war, a war that can never be won or lost, a war without end.’ page 185 and the saffron tide of Hindu, page 169 Roy does not shy away from spilling the horrors of war from her readers. She is to be applauded for that. The final chapters spun together put a hold on happiness. And by that I mean, they nail it down, and keep it, those misfit, mismatched characters who, finally, create a Ministry for it. My take is, they ARE the Ministry. I was consumed, near the end, with adjectives, like astounding, rich, full, emotional, joyful. There is a child, Tilo’s baby (adopted) Miss Udaya Jebeen, ‘she of the six fathers and three mothers (who were stitched together by threads of light)...’ page 433Is the ending happy? There is a wedding. There is still the squalor in the streets, the disparity between the shiny big buildings along the flyover and the wasted people who live under it eking out their daily life. There is still, and always, hope. And happiness.
    more
  • Vowelor Books
    October 27, 2016
    The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy is her second fiction novel almost 20 years after The God of Small Things. Arundhati is known to create a surreal world with her words and all of us have witnessed her magic.The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is a book about love. Love, where you cannot imagine it happening; in the most improbable circumstances. Despite being set in precise and particular geographical location but its real setting is the soul. It is peopled by souls of the present The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy is her second fiction novel almost 20 years after The God of Small Things. Arundhati is known to create a surreal world with her words and all of us have witnessed her magic.The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is a book about love. Love, where you cannot imagine it happening; in the most improbable circumstances. Despite being set in precise and particular geographical location but its real setting is the soul. It is peopled by souls of the present as well as the departed, souls both human and animal. Souls that have been broken by the world we live in and then mended by love.Arundhati’s latest novel is something that deals with the ‘utmost’ form of love achieving the ...see review
    more
  • Emilie Joyce
    May 27, 2017
    Read this book! It is absolutely magnificent, a sweeping account of Indian society, politics, religion, history, and local colour. Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus dwell side by side, sometimes in the strangest of circumstances, sometimes peacefully, but often not. Each of the characters is fascinating in their own right, and when they interact the most amazing things can (and do) happen. Boundaries are crossed - religious boundaries, gender boundaries, caste boundaries, political boundaries - and the Read this book! It is absolutely magnificent, a sweeping account of Indian society, politics, religion, history, and local colour. Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus dwell side by side, sometimes in the strangest of circumstances, sometimes peacefully, but often not. Each of the characters is fascinating in their own right, and when they interact the most amazing things can (and do) happen. Boundaries are crossed - religious boundaries, gender boundaries, caste boundaries, political boundaries - and the results are often surprising indeed. I waited two decades for Arundhati Roy to write another novel, and she does not disappoint.
    more
  • Leyla Johnson
    May 31, 2017
    A very unexpected book. I found it very intrigue - not sure if I liked it, but it certainly drew me into it. I think this is a book that once read, it pops back into your mind over time as you digest it. It certainly challenged me - that is a good thing - books should do that otherwise we keep reading the same thing over and over only the people and places change. Thank you for the journey.
    more
  • Sharon
    May 17, 2017
    I received a copy of this new book from the Goodreads program. I must admit that twenty years is a long time to wait for a new novel, but this was well worth the wait!. Ms. Roy's new book is dark and haunting, with an amazing cast of characters. This is a story of souls, past and present, human and animal. It is a story about the broken, who are mended by love. Definitely worth reading!
    more
  • Catherine
    May 15, 2017
    I felt it lost some momentum in the middle, but started and ended well.
  • Stephanie Snyder
    May 29, 2017
    Thank you for choosing me to receive a free copy via Goodreads giveaways. A wonderful story about what happens when lives come together with a common goal.
  • Susan
    May 26, 2017
    EW Summer's 20 Must-Read Books (2017)
Write a review