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The Ministry of Utmost Happiness
Cover of The Ministry of Utmost Happiness
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness
Borrow
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. The tale begins with Anjum-who used to be Aftab-unrolling a threadbare Persian carpet in a city graveyard she calls home.
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. The tale begins with Anjum-who used to be Aftab-unrolling a threadbare Persian carpet in a city graveyard she calls home.
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  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from April 3, 2017
    Appearing two decades after 1997's celebrated The God of Small Things, Roy's ambitious, original, and haunting second novel fuses tenderness and brutality, mythic resonance and the stuff of front-page headlines. Anjum, one of its two protagonists, is born intersex and raised as a male. Embracing her identity as a woman, she moves from her childhood home in Delhi to the nearby House of Dreams, where hijra like herself live together, and then to a cemetery when that home too fails her. The dwelling she cobbles together on her family's graves becomes a paradoxically life-affirming enclave for the wounded, outcast, and odd. The other protagonist, the woman who calls herself S. Tilottama, fascinates three very different men but loves only one, the elusive Kashmiri activist Musa Yeswi. When an abandoned infant girl appears mysteriously amid urban litter and both Anjum and Tilo have reasons to try to claim her, all their lives converge. Shifting fluidly between moods and time frames, Roy juxtaposes first-person and omniscient narration with "found" documents to weave her characters' stories with India's social and political tensions, particularly the violent retaliations to Kashmir's long fight for self-rule. Sweeping, intricate, and sometimes densely topical, the novel can be a challenging read. Yet its complexity feels essential to Roy's vision of a bewilderingly beautiful, contradictory, and broken world. 150,000-copy announced first printing.

  • AudioFile Magazine If Arundhati Roy's lyrical prose, melodic voice, and lilting accents aren't enough, the stories of Anjum, Tilottama, and a cast of society's misbegotten--interwoven with India's social and political growing pains--will keep listeners captivated. Born with both male and female genitalia and raised male, Anjum is a woman trapped in a man's body. She leaves her family home and lives with other hijra in a "House of Dreams" in Delhi. Eventually disenchanted, she moves into a cemetery, living on her family's graves. The lost souls she meets there and the sacrifices they make comprise Roy's indelible portraits of outcasts, damaged psyches, and a country suffering upheavals and uncertainty at every turn. Roy's impeccable diction makes this dense and challenging saga accessible and unforgettable. S.J.H. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award � AudioFile 2017, Portland, Maine
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Arundhati Roy
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