The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness: A Novel by ARUNDHATI ROYThe Ministry Of Utmost Happiness: A Novel by ARUNDHATI ROYsticker-burst

The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness: A Novel

byARUNDHATI ROY

Hardcover | June 6, 2017

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2017 Man Booker Prize Longlist

2018 Women's Prize for Fiction 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.
ARUNDHATI ROY is the author of the Booker Prize-winning novel The God of Small Things. Her political writings include The Algebra of Infinite Justice, Listening to Grasshoppers, Broken Republic, Capitalism: A Ghost Story, and most recently, Things That Can and Cannot Be Said, co-authored with John Cusack. Roy lives in New Delhi and he...
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Title:The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness: A NovelFormat:HardcoverProduct dimensions:464 pages, 8.56 × 6.01 × 1.36 inShipping dimensions:8.56 × 6.01 × 1.36 inPublished:June 6, 2017Publisher:Penguin CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0735234345

ISBN - 13:9780735234345

Reviews

Rated 2 out of 5 by from Long, long, long....and not in a good way! Had to take this on a plane so I would actually finish it. Too many details you could do without and not enough detail on the actual Leaders and Politics of the time. If you have little knowledge of Indian polictics much of this novel will be lost on you. Even with some knowledge, nuances were no doubt missed. This book lumbers along and in spite of my hopes that this would all lead to something, sadly it did not. Could have been wonderful but lack of editing makes it miss the mark.
Date published: 2018-10-27
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Confusing and Difficult to get Through I very rarely dislike a book. Although I feel that there are interesting elements within the story I found that there was a lack of a clear storyline. It was really hard to read through easily as there is too much information unloaded about many characters all at once. It was difficult to side with anyone character do to the multiple shifts.
Date published: 2018-08-26
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Difficult to read The story is beautiful but long and slow. Roy's writing is beautiful but can sometimes take a while to grasp and understand. You need a lot of patience to read this. Not for everyone.
Date published: 2018-08-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Read This book was quite different, the way it dwelves into the story of each character & their lives...It was a great read
Date published: 2018-05-09
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Can't finish it This book is so s..l..o..w.. and hard to follow. I feel drained just trying to go through half of it.
Date published: 2018-05-03
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not for me It's written beautifully... but it was very confusing and very dull
Date published: 2018-05-02
Rated 1 out of 5 by from I wasn't impressed It was dry to say the least. I've definitely read better
Date published: 2018-03-11
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Do not read this book I gave Roy a chance here because I had read the hype and some of her other books. She lacks the storytelling skills of Rushdie, provides nearly 250 characters that confuse the reader in a way not unlike Marquez. The book was a slog and painful to get through. Trivial, poor and not worth my time.
Date published: 2018-03-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Own it! A great novel. I couldn't stop reading. A must read for anyone looking for a good read.
Date published: 2018-02-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful Read!! What a lovely done and thought provoking read! Found it hard to resist!
Date published: 2018-02-04
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Tedious It was a dry book, I expected more but was sadly left with little
Date published: 2018-01-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Great An interesting premise. The story picks up speed as you read along. Very interesting.
Date published: 2018-01-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from ok Predictable premise but some good twists & turns
Date published: 2018-01-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from it was okay slow start but picks it up later. not bad but not great.
Date published: 2017-12-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Slow read for those without the historical background to start The premise of the story was touching and it was obvious that Roy is talented at creating characters with a lot of depth. However, as someone with little historical background that ultimately serves as the backbone for the story, I found the novel to be a slow read and hard to follow. I'm sure it would be a great story for those who have the historical background to bridge the knowledge gap that I struggled with.
Date published: 2017-12-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from very inspirational I think this book could've used a work over once more before being released but even in it's appearance "as is" it was still a very good read.
Date published: 2017-11-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wonderful read Beautiful read, just lovely, very thought provoking
Date published: 2017-11-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Touching A touching read. Clever. Easy to follow.
Date published: 2017-11-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from love I loved this. So touching, honest, open and relatable.
Date published: 2017-11-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from ok I found the writing a bit boastful and dull at the same time.
Date published: 2017-11-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wait for it It took me a bit to get into it, but when I did, it was totally worth it.
Date published: 2017-10-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from ok I read quite a bit over the last few days. The plot-twists left me shocked and confused in the best way. It left me thinking hard, pondering every detail of the book. I would definitely recommend.
Date published: 2017-10-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from ok Found it somewhat dry at times.
Date published: 2017-10-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Love it A master piece in it's own, I feel as though the culture she speaks about in India is right outside my window.
Date published: 2017-09-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from ok A great novel with clever, easy to follow writing with funny and witty characters. Definitely a must read!
Date published: 2017-09-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from great I really enjoyed this - what a great story - it really makes you think!
Date published: 2017-08-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good but LONG I don't got to the movies anymore because I find them far too long and in serious need of a directors cut. I feel the same way about this book. Edit, edit, edit!
Date published: 2017-08-21
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Needs a serious edit! So much boring minutiae...like the 3 page list of things Tilo's delusional, dying mother says & all the details about minor, minor, minor characters. The book jacket did not give any indication that there would be so, so much war stuff. The beginning & ending, which is more the story of Anjrum's life are enjoyable.
Date published: 2017-08-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Meh I should have known better. It's a sappy love story, not my thing. It's slow to start. I think if you like sad stories, you will enjoy it.
Date published: 2017-08-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from cool just okay, not the best but still good!
Date published: 2017-08-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Four Stars Sad, hopeful and beautiful. If you haven’t advanced knowledge of India’s strife and struggle, this book may be a bit above your pay grade.
Date published: 2017-08-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Liked it Long listed for the Man Booker award this year to be announced on October 17. this is an excellent novel and deserves to be nominated. there is a very tough field this year which reflects the astounding high quality of this novel.
Date published: 2017-08-03
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Okay I guess I was not really feeling this book that much.
Date published: 2017-07-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from meh wasnt as exciting as i thought itd be
Date published: 2017-07-23
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Did not like it... I had heard so many great things about this author, but 100 pages into the book and I still had no idea where it was going. Decided to check a couple of reviews and I am glad I did because there isn't really much of a plot with this book.
Date published: 2017-07-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from mixed feelings about this book not what i expected; a bit long and overdrawn.
Date published: 2017-07-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A good read Not one of my favorite books of they year, but there was a little something about it !
Date published: 2017-06-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Great book Great book, a good idea for a book club read!
Date published: 2017-06-16
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not what I expected I didn't enjoy this novel, it is not what I expected it would be.
Date published: 2017-06-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it Didn't know how I would feel about this book but it totally surpassed my expectations
Date published: 2017-06-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Arundhati's another masterpiece ! Ambitious, original, and haunting . . . a novel [that] fuses tenderness and brutality, mythic resonance and the stuff of headlines . . . 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 tensions . . . Sweeping, intricate, and sometimes topical, the novel’s complexity feels essential to Roy’s vision of a bewilderingly beautiful, contradictory, and broken world.
Date published: 2017-05-09

Read from the Book

She lived in the graveyard like a tree. At dawn she saw the crows off and welcomed the bats home. At dusk she did the opposite. Between shifts she conferred with the ghosts of vultures that loomed in her high branches. She felt the gentle grip of their talons like an ache in an amputated limb. She gathered they weren’t altogether unhappy at having excused themselves and exited from the story.When she first moved in, she endured months of casual cruelty like a tree would—without flinching. She didn’t turn to see which small boy had thrown a stone at her, didn’t crane her neck to read the insults scratched into her bark. When people called her names—clown without a circus, queen without a palace—she let the hurt blow through her branches like a breeze and used the music of her rustling leaves as balm to ease the pain.It was only after Ziauddin, the blind imam who had once led the prayers in the Fatehpuri Masjid, befriended her and began to visit her that the neighborhood decided it was time to leave her in peace.Long ago a man who knew English told her that her name written backwards (in English) spelled Majnu. In the English version of the story of Laila and Majnu, he said, Majnu was called Romeo and Laila was Juliet. She found that hilarious. “You mean I’ve made a khichdi of their story?” she asked. “What will they do when they find that Laila may actually be Majnu and Romi was really Juli?” The next time he saw her, the Man Who Knew English said he’d made a mistake. Her name spelled backwards would be Mujna, which wasn’t a name and meant nothing at all. To this she said, “It doesn’t matter. I’m all of them, I’m Romi and Juli, I’m Laila and Majnu. And Mujna, why not? Who says my name is Anjum? I’m not Anjum, I’m Anjuman. I’m a mehfil, I’m a gathering. Of everybody and nobody, of everything and nothing. Is there anyone else you would like to invite? Everyone’s invited.”The Man Who Knew English said it was clever of her to come up with that one. He said he’d never have thought of it himself. She said, “How could you have, with your standard of Urdu? What d’you think? English makes you clever automatically?”He laughed. She laughed at his laugh. They shared a filter cigarette. He complained that Wills Navy Cut cigarettes were short and stumpy and simply not worth the price. She said she preferred them any day to Four Square or the very manly Red & White.She didn’t remember his name now. Perhaps she never knew it. He was long gone, the Man Who Knew English, to wherever he had to go. And she was living in the graveyard behind the government hospital. For company she had her steel Godrej almirah in which she kept her music—scratched records and tapes—an old harmonium, her clothes, jewelry, her father’s poetry books, her photo albums and a few press clippings that had survived the fire at the Khwabgah. She hung the key around her neck on a black thread along with her bent silver toothpick. She slept on a threadbare Persian carpet that she locked up in the day and unrolled between two graves at night (as a private joke, never the same two on consecutive nights). She still smoked. Still Navy Cut.One morning, while she read the newspaper aloud to him, the old imam, who clearly hadn’t been listening, asked—affecting a casual air—“Is it true that even the Hindus among you are buried, not cremated?”Sensing trouble, she prevaricated. “True? Is what true? What is Truth?”Unwilling to be deflected from his line of inquiry, the imam muttered a mechanical response. “Sach Khuda hai. Khuda hi Sach hai.” Truth is God. God is Truth. The sort of wisdom that was available on the backs of the painted trucks that roared down the highways. Then he narrowed his blindgreen eyes and asked in a slygreen whisper: “Tell me, you people, when you die, where do they bury you? Who bathes the bodies? Who says the prayers?” Anjum said nothing for a long time. Then she leaned across and  whispered  back,  untree-like,  “Imam  Sahib,  when  people speak of color—red, blue, orange, when they describe the sky at sunset, or moonrise during Ramzaan—what goes through your mind?”Having wounded each other thus, deeply, almost mortally, the two sat quietly side by side on someone’s sunny grave, hemorrhaging. Eventually it was Anjum who broke the silence.“You tell me,” she said. “You’re the Imam Sahib, not me. Where do old birds go to die? Do they fall on us like stones from the sky? Do we stumble on their bodies in the streets? Do you not think that the All-Seeing, Almighty One who put us on this Earth has made proper arrangements to take us away?”That day the imam’s visit ended earlier than usual. Anjum watched him leave, tap-tap-tapping his way through the graves, his seeing-eye cane making music as it encountered the empty booze bottles and discarded syringes that littered his path. She didn’t stop him. She knew he’d be back. No matter how elaborate its charade, she recognized loneliness when she saw it. She sensed that in some strange tangential way, he needed her shade as much as she needed his. And she had learned from experience that Need was a warehouse that could accommodate a considerable amount of cruelty.Even though Anjum’s departure from the Khwabgah had been far from cordial, she knew that its dreams and its secrets were not hers alone to betray.

Editorial Reviews

One of The Globe and Mail's 100 Best Books of 2017A Financial Times Best Books of 2017 for FictionA New York Times Editor's Choice pick A Chatelaine 20 Best Books of 2017 selection A  Now Toronto 10 Best Books of 2017 selectionAn Economic Times  top-selling books of 2017 selection A National Post Best Books of the Year selectionAn Elle Magazine book club recommendation“Truly, this is 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 the Subcontinent’s most brutal villains.” —Ron Charles, Washington Post “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 to find, yes, that utmost happiness of which the title speaks.” —Kirkus (starred review)“Ambitious, original, and haunting . . . a novel [that] fuses tenderness and brutality, mythic resonance and the stuff of headlines . . .essential to Roy’s vision of a bewilderingly beautiful, contradictory, and broken world.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review) “A masterpiece…Roy joins Dickens, Naipaul, García Márquez, and Rushdie in her abiding compassion, storytelling magic, and piquant wit…. A tale of suffering, sacrifice and transcendence—an entrancing, imaginative, and wrenching epic.” —Booklist"With its insights into human nature, its memorable characters and its luscious prose, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is well worth the 20-year wait.”  —Time“One of the effects of reading Roy is heightened, nagging awareness . . . [t]o read Roy is to build a sense of wonder”  —Globe and Mail"... what is so remarkable is [Roy's] combinatory genius… [the] scenes of violence are hallucinatory... In fact, [she is] practicing... magic realism, which... among other things, [is] a means of reporting on political horror without inducing tedium.” —The New Yorker “To say this book is ‘highly anticipated’ is a bit of an understatement. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness will be a welcome gift for those who’ve missed Roy’s dazzling fiction.” —Cosmopolitan’s 11 Books You Won’t Be Able to Put Down This Summer “It’s finally here! Fans of The God of Small Things have been waiting for Roy’s next novel, and it doesn’t disappoint. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is big, both in physical heft and in ideas. It features an unforgettable cast of characters from across India whose stories are told with generosity and compassion.” —Vulture Summer Books Preview “A novel that takes its readers into the abyss of poverty and patriarchy, thereby narrating the sordid uses of power and the agony it unleashes. . .it is an inward contemplation of a master storyteller on the times and surroundings she is living in.” —The Times of India“This intricately layered and passionate novel, studded with jokes and with horrors, has room for satire and romance, for rage and politics and for steely understatement…[I]t is exuberant, page-turning, and sometimes even frolicsome—though a frolic that can flip abruptly into something like despair...Like Dickens, Roy can plunge us into intimacy with a character within a few pages; she can also sustain the mystery of character across the entire span of the plot…This is a work of extraordinary intricacy and grace, as well as being fuelled by savage indignation. It is also a work that feels dangerous to read, even to those far from scenes described. There is no space left for easy objectivity in this challenging novel. It gives it its cutting edge.” —Prospect“A stunningly beautiful novel that wills another world to emerge from our collective darkness. Weaving the experiences and aspirations of India’s most marginalized peoples into perfect prose, Roy unveils complex characters possessed by a desire to invent new worlds even in dark times. In an era when the West is sensing the prescience of authoritarian rule, Roy’s novel is instructive: it illuminates the intelligent, critical, often rebellious perspectives of peoples belonging to a vast Indian underclass.” —Maclean’s "Roy’s novel is deeply political and offers the opportunity for audiences to engage with complex history in an accessible and compelling way." —Open Canada“The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, which marked her long-awaited return to fiction. . .is a book just as good, if not better, than The God of Small Things, and that is enough reason to celebrate.” —The Express Tribune“a magnificent, sweeping work about a divided India.” —The Straits Times"lyrical and life-affirming." —Irish Examiner “A story of unbinding love, mystery and thrill, uncertainty and perplexity, ambivalence and confusion that brings to life a whole lot of tales and stories from a host of origins…. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is an unforgettable tale, which touches you on many levels of mind and heart and invites you to unweave its rich texture thread by thread and share its loss, love, horror and hope.” —Daily Times (Pakistan) “[A] wonderfully woven narrative…. This is the kind of book that makes one feel that life is worth living.” —Sabiha Huq, The Daily Star “After a 20-year-long wait, Arundhati Roy presented us with her second book, a mesmerising novel that deals with some of the most brutal atrocities of modern Indian history . . . The web of narratives that Roy has woven makes for an interesting read.” –Yourstory“Roy elucidates the conversation around power and diversity in a way that no other author does. This book is more than just one of the best protest novels ever written, standing up to reading after rereading. It is also the ultimate love letter to the richness and complexity of India — and the world — in all its hurly-burly, glorious, and threatened heterogeneity.” —The Los Angeles Review of BooksPraise for The God of Small Things:  "A work of highly conscious art—A Tiger Woodsian début—the author hits the long, socio-cosmic ball but is also exquisite in her short game. Like a devotionally built temple, The God of Small Things builds a massive interlocking structure of fine, intensely felt details." —John Updike, The New Yorker "A work that is complex in structure, sophisticated in its handling of time, and bold in its themes. But perhaps what is most remarkable is Roy's deft use of language."—Maclean's  "A compelling tale of forbidden love and its catastrophic consequences, wonderfully vivid—Arundhati Roy's novel has a magic and mystery all its own." —Toronto Star  "Roy weaves her bold and startling narrative in sequences of luminously rendered scenes—remarkable." —The Globe and Mail