I loved The God of Small Things, and I've been keeping an eye out for Roy's next novel. She doesn't disappoint. Her prose is as lyrical and her commentary as incisive as I expected, and her scope has expanded in the 20 years since she published her last novel. This was worth every year of the wait. Recommended By Ashleigh B., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
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 first novel in 20 years from Roy, and worth the wait: a humane, engaged near fairy tale that soon turns dark — full of characters and their meetings, accidental and orchestrated alike, in the streets, rooming houses, and business offices of Delhi... Roy constructs a world in which characters cross boundaries of ethnicity, religion, and gender to find, yes, that utmost happiness of which the title speaks. An assured novel borne along by a swiftly moving storyline that addresses the most profound issues with elegant humor." Kirkus (Starred Review)
"Ministry is the follow-up we’ve been longing for — a poetic, densely populated contemporary novel in the tradition of Dickens and Tolstoy. From its beginning, one is swept up in the story. If The God of Small Things was a lushly imagined, intimate family novel slashed through with politics, Ministry encompasses wildly different economic, religious, and cultural realms across the Indian subcontinent and as far away as Iraq and California. Animating it is a kaleidoscopic variety of bohemians, revolutionaries, and lovers…With her exquisite and dynamic storytelling, Roy balances scenes of suffering and corruption with flashes of humor, giddiness, and even transcendence." Daphne Beal, Vogue
"If you want to know the world behind out corporate-sponsored dreamscapes, you read writers like Arundhati Roy. She shows you what’s really going on." Junot Diaz, in Vogue
"Glorious….remarkable, colorful and compelling... Roy has a passionate following, and her admirers will not be disappointed. This ambitious new novel, like its predecessor, addresses weighty themes in an intermittently playful narrative voice. At the novel’s heart are three male friends from university and the woman they all loved and continue to love…. Their lives come together like puzzle pieces; the telling involves an unusual combination of epic and classic echoes; of unexpected detail; and, unforgettably, an unflinching realism. You will [be] granted a powerful sense of their world, of the complexity, energy and diversity of contemporary India, in which darkness and exuberant vitality and inextricable intertwined." Claire Messud, The Financial Times
"A gem — a great tempest of a novel: 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 brutal villains. Ministry is a thoroughly absorbing work of art — a hybrid of satire, romance, thriller and history. It speaks to the universal struggle of minority people to be free. Here is writing that swirls so hypnotically it doesn’t feel like words on paper so much as ink on water. This vast novel will leave you awed by the heat of its anger and the depth of its compassion." Ron Charles, The Washington Post
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.
By slowly becoming everything.
Humane and sensuous, beautifully told, this extraordinary novel demonstrates on every page the miracle of Arundhati Roy's storytelling gifts.
About the Author
Arundhati Roy is the author of the Booker Prize-winning novel The God of Small Things. Her nonfiction writings include The Algebra of Infinite Justice, Listening to Grasshoppers, Broken Republic, and Capitalism: A Ghost Story, and most recently, Things That Can and Cannot Be Said, coauthored with John Cusack.