Nominated by:

LINC Tasmania, Hobart, Australia

Gradska knjižnice Rijeka, Croatia

Tartu Public Library, Estonia

Leipziger Städtische Bibliotheken, Germany

Veria Central Public Library, Greece

India International Centre Library, New Delhi

Wojewódzka Biblioteka Publiczna im. Marszałka Józefa Piłsudskiego w Łodzi, Poland

New Hampshire State Library, Concord, USA

Houston Public Library, USA

Publisher of nominated edition:

Hamish Hamilton, UK

Alfred A. Knopf, USA

Penguin Books India

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

Arundhati   Roy      

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness takes us on a journey of many years-the story spooling outwards from the cramped neighbourhoods of Old Delhi into the burgeoning new metropolis and beyond, to the Valley of Kashmir and the forests of Central India, where war is peace and peace is war, and where, from time to time, ‘normalcy’ is declared. Anjum, who used to be Aftab, unrolls a threadbare carpet in a city graveyard that she calls home. A baby appears quite suddenly on a pavement, a little after midnight, in a crib of litter. The enigmatic S. Tilottama is as much of a presence as she is an absence in the lives of the three men who loved her.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is at once an aching love story and a decisive remonstration. It is told in a whisper, in a shout, through tears and sometimes with a laugh. Its heroes are people who have been broken by the world they live in and then rescued, mended by love and by hope. For this reason, they are as steely as they are fragile, and they never surrender. This ravishing, magnificent book reinvents what a novel can do and can be. And it demonstrates on every page the miracle of Arundhati Roy’s storytelling gifts.

About the Author

Arundhati Roy is the author of The God of Small Things, which won the Booker Prize in 1997 and has been translated into more than forty languages, and The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, which was long listed for the Man Booker Prize 2017. Roy has also published several works of non-fiction, including The Algebra of Infinite Justice, Listening to Grasshoppers and Broken Republic. She lives in Delhi.

(from publisher)

Librarians’ comments

Very popular with our readers, in the lending library and our book group service, who have been waiting for this novel for many years.

An interesting overview about Indian society and its political situation.

The new book by Arundhati Roy cannot easily be found in our library because profound readers remember talented storytellers, follow them, and get back to their work. India represented by this author in The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is a spectrum of different spaces and different characters that compose an enchanting artistic landscape of society and individual lives. The fact that life can be so rough can be overwhelmed by love and hope as we are overwhelmed by reading great literature.

Arundhati Roy is one of our favourite authors. Our users love her books. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is a beautiful love story which travels with us in Old Delhi and other places.

Social issues are crucial for the writer. Thanks to the novel, we learn how the big politics influences individuals. Hatred spreads, radical religion-based groups terrorise the society. The strongest ones win and they keep everyone forced to stick to the once accepted rules. Those rejected look for their own place. They have the need to love, but instead – they get persecuted and excluded. Only meeting similar people at the cemetery can contribute to finding their own happiness. The author loves India and writes about it with deep emotions, screaming with pain, with anger and expressing her disagreement concerning the state of certain issues in her country. The narration is similar to modern India – it is chaotic, vibrating, full of colors, built of contrasts.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is a curious beast; baggy, bewilderingly over populated with characters, frequently achronological, written in an often careless and haphazard style and yet capable of breathtakingly composed and powerful interludes. The idea that the personal is political and vice versa informs its every sentence, but it also interrogates that assumption, examining its contours and consequences. A novel of maddeningly frayed edges, wonky pacing and occasional longueurs. But its patchwork of narratives, painful, funny, sexy, violent, earthy, otherworldly, its recurring images of lost and recovered children, individual sacrifice and self-denial, and its depiction of the constant battle toward self-assertion in a society still held in thrall to the taxonomy of caste and class, make for a disturbing and memorable return to the land of make-believe.

In The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, Arundhati Roy braids together the stories of many people (mostly in India and Kashmir) into a lyrical novel filled with horror and love and the intimate struggles of facing each day as it comes.

The novel serves as a vehicle for examining the religious and political tensions in modern India.

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