New York Times Best Seller
Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize
Named a Best Book of 2017 by NPR, 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.
"*Starred Review* Roy lit up the literary cosmos with her first novel, The God of Small Things (1997), a Man Booker Prize winner that continues to be avidly read and cherished the world over. In the intervening 20 years, the exceptionally talented, caring, and intrepid Roy devoted herself to social activism while writing numerous articles and five books of inquisitive, finely crafted nonfiction. She also worked on her second novel, which is her second masterpiece. As the ironic title suggests, this is a saga of eviscerating social critique and caustic humor, but it is also a deeply tragic and profoundly beautiful book in its linguistic chiaroscuro. As her intriguingly complex characters endure terror and absurdity, treachery and wonder, tyranny and passion, Roy explicates the horrific conflicts roiling twenty-first-century India and brutally occupied Kashmir. But as specific as her unnerving dramatization is of the dire clashes between Hindus and Muslims over faith, territory, and justice, her depiction of the consequences of extreme ideologies, systemic corruption, and rampant violence is of universal resonance. The unifying force in this tale of suffering, sacrifice, and transcendence is Anjum, a hermaphrodite who lives as a woman in New Delhi, initially as a glamorous standout among the transgender Hijra, a group with a long, fascinating history in South Asia. After barely surviving anti-Muslim atrocities fueled by 9/11, Anjum retreats to a graveyard, where she cobbles together a sanctuary she calls the Jannat (which translates as paradise) Guest Home and Funeral Services. There a foundling brings together Anjum and her enclave and a quartet of friends and lovers who met in college. Artist Tilottama, like Roy, is the daughter of a divorced Syrian Christian mother. Biplab became a high-ranking Indian intelligence officer; Musa, a daring Kashmiri freedom fighter and master of disguises; and Naga, a famous journalist. Each of three men loves Tilottama, and all four are under threat from Amrik Singh, a cold-blooded Indian army officer tagged as the Butcher of Kashmir. From Anjum's cemetery refuge to a small Delhi apartment, a movie theater turned into a torture facility, a Kashmiri houseboat, and the jungle hideouts of Maoist rebels, Roy's entrancing, imaginative, and wrenching epic exposes relentless strategies of oppression, including the abuse and murder of innocents, the cynical lies of counterinsurgency efforts, the infrastructure of impunity, and the commodification of trauma in the supermarket of grief. Roy joins Dickens, Naipaul, García Márquez, and Rushdie in her abiding compassion, storytelling magic, and piquant wit as she questions our perceptions of gender, family, home, country, war, freedom, love, and death in this righteous and tender illumination of humankind's paradoxical capacities for cruelty and kindness.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"Twenty years after the publication of The God of Small Things, Roy proves once again that she is a master writer; unfortunately, she is not a master audiobook narrator. The book tells the stories of two protagonists: Anjum, born intersex but raised as a male and now living as a woman in a house with other hijra in Delhi, and Tilo, a politically minded young woman romantically entangled with three men. The two stories are set against a wide-ranging portrait of the social and political fabric of modern India. Yet much of both characters' complexity gets lost in Roy's reading. Roy works too hard at carefully pronouncing every word. This slows the pace of the narrative and so focuses the listener's attention on each word that the meaning of the sentence is lost. While she can be quite dramatic when quoting one of her characters, she drops her voice at the end of almost every sentence, creating a painfully monotonous rhythm. Roy's poetic language and her quirky metaphors and similes remain hallmarks of her remarkable writing style, and she is rightfully known for those rather than for her abilities as a narrator. A Knopf hardcover. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved