Synopses & Reviews
New York Times
Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize
A The Washington Post
, NPR, Minneapolis Star-Tribune
, Financial Times
, The Christian Science Monitor
, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
, The Guardian
, Kirkus Reviews
Best Book of the Year
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.
“The novel weaves the personal and the political with powerful results....Roy turns her lens outward to examine India’s rich but violent history and the catastrophic lingering effects of Partition.” Esquire
“Epic in scale, but intimately human in its concerns, the long-awaited story dazzles with its kaleidoscopic narrative approach and unforgettable characters.” Elle
“Roy’s second novel proves as remarkable as her first....Through [the characters’] archetypal interactions, juxtaposed with Roy’s glorious social details, you will have been granted a powerful sense of their world, of the complexity, energy and diversity of contemporary India.” Financial Times
“Staggeringly beautiful....Once a decade, if we are lucky, a novel emerges from the cinder pit of living that asks the urgent question of our global era....Roy’s novel is this decade’s ecstatic and necessary answer.” The Boston Globe
“Powerful and moving....Infused with so much passion — political, social, emotional — that it vibrates. It may leave you shaking, too.” San Francisco Chronicle
A great tempest of a novel....Will leave you awed.” The Washington Post
About the Author
Arundhati Roy is the author of The God of Small Things, which won the Booker Prize and has been translated into more than forty languages. She also has published several books of nonfiction including The End of Imagination, Capitalism: A Ghost Story and The Doctor and the Saint. She lives in New Delhi.