The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

Book - 2017
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15
2017 Man Booker Prize Longlist

2018 Women's Prize for Fiction Longlist

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is a dazzling new novel by the internationally celebrated author of The God of Small Things . It takes us on an intimate journey of many years across the Indian subcontinent--from the cramped neighborhoods of Old Dehli 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 richly complex 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.
Publisher: Toronto : Hamish Hamilton, 2017
ISBN: 9780735234345
Branch Call Number: ROY
Characteristics: 449 pages ; 22 cm

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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 ... Read More »


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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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