The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

A Novel

Book - 2017
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"A richly 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"-- Provided by publisher.
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. 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 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.
"An epic novel of love and history and the perseverance of the human spirit in the face of loss and tragedy"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York :, Alfred A. Knopf,, 2017
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9781524733155
1524733156
Characteristics: 449 pages ; 22 cm

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davidp1
Jul 08, 2018

There's a brilliant lecture and discussion by the author here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-tFom1WihPY

Arundhati Roy is my hero. Her book was tough to follow in places, but it is a wonderful book.

Although the language is poetic I found the story inaccessible. As a reader unfamiliar with subtle aspects of Indian culture and with the vernacular of that country, the book could not hold my attention past 200 pages. I skipped around looking for an anchor in the story line but in the end I put it down. There are too many other good novels on life in India to bother ploughing through this poorly worked story.

h
hamerkop
Mar 21, 2018

This book is a mandatory read for the Canadian Broadcasting Company and its reporters, who conveniently refuse to address Gujarat ka Lalle's extremism and Hindu nationalist blood shedding in Rajasthan and Kashmir, in their coverage of India - Canada relations.

u
uncommonreader
Mar 14, 2018

Innovative, interesting, complex and harrowing, this novel is an indictment of the "new India" and the oppression in Kashmir and elsewhere under a nationalist Hindu government.

SCL_Justin Jan 25, 2018

The confusion I felt about whether this book is a novel or a collection of linked short stories seems appropriate to a story about hijras and transgender people, and the politics of Kashmir and policing in modern India. These aren't topics that are easily separated into nice boxes, and this book does an excellent job of immersing the reader in that ambiguity. Of course that comes at the cost of a nice simple storyline, but I think it's worth it for the scenes and relationships we get to experience.

2
2308873Library
Jan 19, 2018

#10

s
Samatuna109
Jan 04, 2018

Can't see what all the fuss is about. Have preferred many other Indian authors.

w
wyenotgo
Oct 25, 2017

With regret, after 200 pages I finally had to give up and acknowledge that I still don't know what this book is all about. I found much of it unintelligible, partly because it's filled with words whose meaning remains a mystery to me; in many cases I could not determine whether words referred to persons, events, places, concepts or whatever. Add to that a plot that appears to be going nowhere, a vast number of characters whose relationship to one another or their importance to the story are not apparent. And then add the preponderance of exasperatingly stupid religious animosity and what have we got left? All I can perceive is an exposition of the vast, irreconcilable disconnect between the government and the governed, where those in power regard most of the populace with contempt and much of the populace view the government and its minions as agents of murder, corruption and oppression. Referring to India as "the world's largest democracy" is obviously a sad joke. But does that make for a good novel?
Ms. Roy is a very angry woman. Anger, well channeled and skillfully wielded can be compelling. But here, there are just too many other problems with the writing that get in the way.
Almost two stars in recognition of some gritty humor and one very promising protagonist. The rest I could have done without.

m
m0mmyl00
Sep 26, 2017

This was a difficult book to read. It traveled back and forth in time, and skipped without warning from one place to another. I almost put it down, but couldn't. So many scenes were so unlikely. An hermaphrodte is born to a woman who wants a son so badly she hides his abnormality as long as she can. He grows up and lives as a flamboyant and rather famous Hijra (transgender) in a Hijra house. Later, he sets up housekeeping in a graveyard and is joined by a changing cast of misfits, philosophers, cast offs, and more-or-less ordinary off-beat characters. There's a mysterious baby who appears suddenly and then disappears but is cared for tenderly by one of the graveyard sometimes-dwellers. There are relationships that twist and bind over the course of decades. There's much love, much loneliness, much connectedness, much sadness, much triumph. I gave this book four stars because it won me over so decisively when I was on the fence. But I couldn't stop thinking about it, so I changed that to five stars. The writing and characterization and insights into human feelings were simply beautiful.

i
infinityg37
Aug 28, 2017

I'm with Brangwinn on her comments. Was so excited to read a book by the Author of the God of Small Things, but found this one long and confusing.

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