The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

Book - 2017
Average Rating:
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2017 Man Booker Prize 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: FICTION ROY
Characteristics: 449 pages ; 22 cm

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From Library Staff

The latest novel by award winning Indian author Arundhati Roy. Filled with unforgettable characters, Roy's novel takes us on a journey across the Indian subcontinent; from cramped, city neighborhoods to the mountains and valleys of the countryside.


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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.

Cynthia_N Aug 16, 2017

I struggled with this one. It was at times a beautiful story with characters I liked but it wasn't enough for me to really enjoy reading it. Three stars because of the character Anjum.

g
GummiGirl
Aug 08, 2017

Highly complex, and polemical at times, but frequently poetic and worth persisting through the confusing parts. It gave me a real feel for a rapidly developing country and Kashmir in particular.

b
brangwinn
Aug 06, 2017

I have loved the past novels of Roy, but this book failed to hold my attention as _The God of Small Things_ did. I’m not sure disjointed is the right word for the way it was written, but I could never gain empathy for the main characters, although I certainly sympathized with what life must be like for homosexuals in India. I guess part of my problem in reading it was that I kept looking for a plot and there wasn’t one.

c
Candaceb108
Jul 03, 2017

Faced with the kaleidoscope of chaos that was India in the 80's and still now, what other book could Roy write. So much can be forgiven. How else would an author present such incredibly idiocy of war and cruelty. I don't know. The books starts as though on acid you are perceiving a lotus. The middle is as if the lotus has become a petaled IUD that explodes in your heart slow motion. It ends with a bubble gum happy ending laced with cyanide. Tough sledding.

s
spiderfelt_0
Jul 01, 2017

Can you imagine a book so lush it propels you into a world you've never visited? The scents, sounds, colors and feelings of Delhi, Kashmir and Kerala were almost tangible. Arundhati Roy possesses the ability to build people who tower over a story, sharp and mesmerizing. This book was worth the wait, clearly constructed with care, thought and precision; it left a bittersweet taste in my mouth.

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