Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize
Named a Best Book of 2017 by Amazon, Kirkus, The Washington Post, Newsday , and the Hudson Group A dazzling, richly moving new novel by the internationally celebrated author of The God of Small Things
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness takes us on an intimate journey of many years across the Indian subcontinent--from the cramped neighborhoods of Old Delhi and the roads of the new city to the mountains and valleys of Kashmir and beyond, where war is peace and peace is war. Read more...
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Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize
Named a Best Book of 2017 by Amazon, Kirkus, The Washington Post, Newsday, and the Hudson Group A dazzling, richly moving new novel by the internationally celebrated author of The God of Small Things
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness takes us on an intimate journey of many years across the Indian subcontinent--from the cramped neighborhoods of Old Delhi and the roads of the new city to the mountains and valleys of Kashmir and beyond, where war is peace and peace is war. It is an aching love story and a decisive remonstration, a story told in a whisper, in a shout, through unsentimental tears and sometimes with a bitter laugh. Each of its characters is indelibly, tenderly rendered. Its heroes are people who have been broken by the world they live in and then rescued, patched together by acts of love--and by hope. The tale begins with Anjum--who used to be Aftab--unrolling a threadbare Persian carpet in a city graveyard she calls home. We encounter the odd, unforgettable Tilo and the men who loved her--including Musa, sweetheart and ex-sweetheart, lover and ex-lover; their fates are as entwined as their arms used to be and always will be. We meet Tilo's landlord, a former suitor, now an intelligence officer posted to Kabul. And then we meet the two Miss Jebeens: the first a child born in Srinagar and buried in its overcrowded Martyrs' Graveyard; the second found at midnight, abandoned on a concrete sidewalk in the heart of New Delhi. As this ravishing, deeply humane novel braids these lives together, it reinvents what a novel can do and can be. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness demonstrates on every page the miracle of Arundhati Roy's storytelling gifts.
- ISBN-13: 9781524733155
- ISBN-10: 1524733156
- Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
- Publish Date: June 2017
- Page Count: 464
- Dimensions: 8.3 x 6.1 x 1.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.28 pounds
Arundhati Roy’s return
The sophomore effort of a novelist whose debut made a splash is fraught with high expectations that all too often go unmet. Arundhati Roy presents a special case. It’s been two decades since she won the Booker Prize and wide acclaim for The God of Small Things. But in the intervening years her nonfiction and activism have drawn comparisons to Noam Chomsky and Vandana Shiva. Her new novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, underscores this veer toward politics.
The novel is one of the most polemical in recent memory, and the characters act as animators of these polemics. Expressed with her usual musical precision, Roy’s anger has many targets. The rise of the Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi is one bête noire. Another is India’s continued possession of the Muslim-majority Kashmir region.
Roy’s first novel arrived weeks before India’s first nuclear test—which she condemned—and commentators saw the novel and the test as assertions of a rising India. Her second novel is an indictment of an India drunk on power, mistreating its poor and minorities. Ever the contrarian, Roy defends Kashmiris who seek self-determination. To Roy this is a matter not only of justice but also of survival—of India as a heterogeneous, secular state and of South Asian civilization. Experts consider Kashmir to be the most likely flashpoint for a nuclear war.
More a mosaic than a traditional, coherent story, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness sometimes resembles James Joyce’s Ulysses. Even in style it ramifies, and Roy’s characters are a jumble—similar to India’s welter of competing adversities, which V.S. Naipaul described as a “million mutinies.” The God of Small Things was a lively, virtuosic performance. In its successor, disgust is a recurring theme, and Indian media will likely pan it for anti-Indian propensities. But Roy’s love for the people of India is clear. She doesn’t hate India; what she hates is oppression.