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The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

3.51  ·  Rating details ·  30,704 ratings  ·  4,358 reviews
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, unroll
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published June 6th 2017 by Hamish Hamilton (first published June 2017)
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My Kindle and a Cup of Tea I recently finished reading the novel. It is a very complex, very political novel centred on unrest in Kashmir since the 1990s and it made me recognis…moreI recently finished reading the novel. It is a very complex, very political novel centred on unrest in Kashmir since the 1990s and it made me recognise how little I know about politics in India. I was ashamed by my ignorance that such dreadful things could be happening in the world (as I was when I read 'A Fine Balance' a few years ago). Some of it is Kafka-esque and absurd to the point of hilarity but the humour is very bleak. The story can be hard going but there is a rich, colourful thread of humanity and optimism at the heart of it. I think the problems I faced as a reader were the result of the narrowness of my own world view. It is certainly a perfect novel for our current insane Global political climate. It also made me think about the misery wrought in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria recently and the people who walk away from it all having made fortunes for themselves. A thought provoking, funny, consistently interesting and sometimes confusing novel.
Donna Scott I sludged through this, hoping to find the joy I had reading The God of Small Things...but never did. Though there were some incredibly beautiful desc…moreI sludged through this, hoping to find the joy I had reading The God of Small Things...but never did. Though there were some incredibly beautiful descriptions, and rich images, the plot line was weak. And what made the going rough was that the numerous characters were not developed enough to remember them...especially coupled with their Indian names being hard to remember. Not only was that true with the names, but also the copious description of totally unfamiliar places, none of which could be differentiated from one another. I'm afraid I have to say it is simply not worth the read.(less)

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Emily May
Mar 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: modern-lit, arc, 2017
I, like many people, have heard of the success of Roy's The God of Small Things from twenty years ago. It's been on my mental longlist of books to read since before Goodreads existed. Perhaps it was a mistake to put it off and opt for Roy's newer release instead, but all I can say is my expectations have significantly lowered after reading The Ministry of Utmost Happiness.

At first, I thought the story was slow, dense and hard to follow. It took me a couple hundred pages of squinting hard to see
Jun 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a novel that captures the life that Arundhati Roy has lived and the issues that have consumed her since the publication of her groundbreaking The God of Small Things. It is a story about our contemporary world, of India, and Pakistan, delivered through the microcosm of individuals living through the never ending and harrowing conflict in Kashmir, and the fringe communities of outsiders in Delhi. It begins with the observation of vultures being eliminated through poison, a metaphor for th ...more
Jun 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: india
Last year as part of my annual women of color reading challenge, I read international Man Booker award winner The God of Small Things (1999). Full of luscious prose and distinct story telling skills, Arundhati Roy expertly tells her readers a story of life in newly partitioned India. Roy is an author who I would easily race to bring home her new books albeit one issue- following the success of The God of Small Things she did not write another work of fiction. Roy has spent her career as a journa ...more
Jun 09, 2017 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: those that like it clever and only clever
2017 Award for the Read I was Most Afraid to Dislike

I can't go on. I have spent hours getting to 50 percent. I can't do it.

This book is draining me despite a few passages of immense brilliance.

My Infinite Jest of 2017 and because I can't finish it...likely my worst read.

A new title for me is :

The Ministry of Utmost Frustration !!
Aug 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
Inner dialogue while reading The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness:

This is fun
Oh this is sad
This is boring
This is boring
Who is this?
Skip ahead to the part about the interesting character
Shit now I don't know who they're talking about
Go back
This is boring
Skip ahead again
Only 48% through?!
It's a Man Booker keep going
These judges always do this to me
Finish reading in my car
It's hot
I'm done
Alok Mishra
Jun 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
When the harp begins to sing and the guitar begins to harp, things change dramatically! That is why the book by A Roy has become a dramatic monologue of the ideas and innuendos that she often offers off the books. Reference to the past events are always the best way to write a novel; however, a subtle mechanism behind recalling the events of the past and making them sound like one wants to does call for a scrutiny! Roy's thoughts against the Indian state are well-known. Nevertheless, one (a read ...more
Amit Mishra
Jun 09, 2017 rated it did not like it
464 pages of utter garbage (organic as well as inorganic) against the Indian state as well as the popular belief, this is what the book offers you. Unless you are an ardent follower of the ideas that Arundhati Roy usually offers as a perfect example of hired gun by the people with vested interest, there is nothing in this book for you. So, don't be a reader like many including me who have wasted our money and time reading this unworthy material. You can read more about this book on the link belo ...more
Resh (The Book Satchel)
This is one of the trickiest books to review because it is good and bad at the same time; likeable and non-likeable at the same time. Fans of Roy should expect a novel that is so unlike its predecessor.
The writing is beautiful, (more grim and dingy compared to The God of Small things) and Roy has managed to fit in almost all the problems of India, both political and social. The plot is weak, characters lack depth and the book could have been easily shorter. But on the other hand the book gives
Hannah Greendale
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

[Originally appeared here:]

How does a lament sound? Like a distorted sonorous wave? Hitting the crest with a shrill cry and falling to quietude with mangled whimpers? Or like a prolonged stream of soiled garble, comprehensible only to its beholder?

I don't know on which note of the spectrum this book might fit in, but I do know that this book is a lament - lament on the daily struggles for (dignified) survival borne by the scarred populace of war-torn Kash
Ron Charles
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.

It will not convert Roy’s political enemies, but it will surely blast past them. Here are sentences that feel athletic enough to sprint on for pages, feinting in different directions at once, dropping disparate allusions, tossing off witty asides, refracting competing iro
The Millstone of Unfair Expectations

I am, by nature, a punctual person. I was very late to one novelistic Roy party and relatively early to the next. But in this case, it was the one I was late for that I enjoyed.

In 2014, I finally read The God of Small Things, Roy’s award-winning and (then) only novel, published nearly 20 years earlier. I loved it: the lyrical mysticism, the layers of meaning and metaphor, the tangled plot, the complex characters, and the rich but unfamiliar setting. See my re
Jun 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: indian-fiction
By standards of a conventional novel, this is a failure. It is one of the most interesting failures I've read. It's a sprawling, ambitious novel with no plot. Many of the elements of modern India--Dalit and hijra rights, the occupation of Kashmir, tribal land enclosures, Hindu fundamentalism, Maoist uprisings--are here. It's alive on every page.

This is bound to piss off far-right patriots and nationalists of every stripe. It will probably also piss off people who read solely for entertainment a
Jun 03, 2017 marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
DNF - No rating

Several days ago I posted that I was considering giving up on this book. I very rarely DNF anything, and it pained me to consider quitting this highly anticipated novel. I rather enjoyed Roy's previous novel, The God of Small Things, and I am always drawn to books that will teach me something about another culture. I don't mind a challenge. However, I was not simply challenged - I was befuddled. I wasn't sure what the author was trying to deliver. It seems that my background on mo
Arnav Sinha
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was in school in 1997-98, living in a small township. Most of my reading was limited to the age-appropriate fare on offer at our school library, which I had far outgrown (and read twice over). All of a sudden, this new book by an unheard of Indian author was being covered by the print media (and the one TV news program), and it felt like a good bet to spend my hard-earned pocket money on. The hardcover cost about Rs. 400, which seemed like a big amount for someone who had only bought 2nd-hand ...more
Aug 12, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
How to review The Ministry of Utmost Happiness? It is indeed a tough feat because it's such a complex novel. And at the same time it lacks so much that I really struggled to follow what was happening.

Having previously attempted to read Roy's debut (and Booker winning) novel, The God of Small Things, and not finished it, I'm actually quite surprised I ended up completing her second (and longer) one.

But this book had so much potential. So much! I really never wanted to stop reading it, even when I
A house divided against itself cannot stand, we are told, yet it is surprising how long they do, inertia maybe - the old world has died and the new one waits to be born, or something like that.

I felt that this was a nineteenth century novel that had rather improbably emerged into the the light of the 21st century, it is passionate and engaged, but also is sprawling and determined to pack everything in, the multiplicity of voices reminded me of Dostoevsky as understood by Bakhtin; and one way to
Jul 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviews
This is a political book from A. Roy, reflecting on the conflict and times of turmoil between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. The multitude of intricacies; the problems the peoples of that region had to face for many decades are being told through the viewpoint of many protagonists; each fighting their own demons and telling their part of the multifaceted drama. The effects of new imperialism, exploitation of people's lands, corruption of governments, people divided by religon, effects of invas ...more
Dannii Elle
This is my first book read in the Women's Prize for Fiction longlist.

I can both acknowledge and deny the power of this book. It is a novel without a story. It is a story without a narrative. It is about everything and focused on nothing. And not knowing this sooner formed much of my early discontent with a novel that defied its own noun's traditions at every possible junction.

Beautiful penmanship trumps all, for me. And yet in a book that seemed the very definition of what that means, I found i
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Expectations would be your vilest villain if you venture into The Ministry of Utmost Happiness wanting to relive that oh-so-delicious reading of The God of Small Things. As the cliché goes, a rude shock would awaken you if you were that naive. You have to understand that Arundhati has switched professions and is now more of an activist than a writer. This is Arundhati-the-activist's book except for some parts few and far between where Roy's literary originality, mischief, and humor pokes its hea ...more
Nandakishore Mridula
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
'Once you have fallen of the edge like all of us have, including our Biroo,' Anjum said, 'you will never stop falling. And as you fall, you will hold on to other falling people. The sooner you understand that the better. This place where we live, where we have made our home, is the place of falling people. Here there is no haqeeqat. Arre, even we aren't real. We don't really exist.'

These words by Anjum, the hijra (transgender in modern terminology), encapsulate what Arundhati Roy has tried to do
May 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Arundhati Roy has written an extensive, absorbing and heart-breaking story of the personal struggle of an intersexual person against prejudice and resentment. Set amongst the internal social turmoil of India and the cultural conflict with Pakistan, Roy’s writing is wonderfully poetic and often political.

An eagerly awaiting mother praying for the safe delivery of her son Aftab finds on inspection that he has female parts. Her reactions go from horror wanting to kill herself and her child

4 stars for the prose
2 stars for enjoyment

I’ve heard so many wonderful things about Arundhati Roy’s “ The God of Small Things ” that I was really looking forward to reading her latest - despite a few less than shining reviews. I was still looking forward to reading “ The Ministry of Utmost Happiness .”

What can I say about my actual experience reading this? I was occasionally awed by her prose, lovely. This is a moving story filled with the horrors of man’s inhumanity to man, not a new topic
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The much anticipated follow up to The God of Small Things. I know opinions have been divided about this, but for me it did not disappoint. It is panoramic in scope with a vast range of characters. It ranges across the Indian subcontinent with a special focus on the conflict in Kashmir. The novel’s real focus is the marginalised, the victims of corruption, oppression and prejudice. The novel’s politics is laced with irony and humour. There is also great human warmth amidst the horror.
As always Ro
Feb 21, 2017 marked it as to-read
Shelves: on-hold
Arundhati Roy is here to save us all.
Paul Fulcher
Aug 06, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2017, booker-2017
Arundhati Roy waited 20 years to write the follow up to her Booker-prize-winning and best-selling debut novel, so unsurprisingly many publishers vied for this book. She tells in a Guardian interview how she chose the successful publisher:
She told her literary agent, “I don’t want all this bidding and vulgarity, you know.”

She wanted interested publishers to write her a letter instead, describing “how they understood” her book. She then convened a meeting with them. “OK,” her agent prompted after
Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
I am not going to give this 5 stars because it did not totally win me over the way The God of Small Things did. However it was still a very satisfactory reading experience.
I must say first though that there is a lot about politics and politics do not interest me one tiny bit as much as they do Arundhati Roy. So I have to admit to the teeniest amount of skimming from time to time. Which is a shame because she writes so very beautifully at all times. I have not been to India but she makes me feel
I'm giving up on this one. It has flashes of her brilliance, but it wanders too far and too often from the path. ...more
Jan 24, 2018 rated it liked it

This book took twenty years to get written. It is big a book with a great many characters, incidents, issues; it primarily tells the story of Anjum a 'Hijra' (transgender) from Delhi. Roy writes beautifully about the story of this 'Hijra' child from the time it is born. The child is called 'Aftab', at the threshold of adolescence, Aftab becomes Anjum and leaves home to join a group of 'Hijras' in old Delhi.

The first part of the book is its best. It takes us to the innermost crevices of the city,
Jul 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This year's Man Booker longlist announcement is due in a couple of days, so now seemed a good time to catch up with the only one I missed from last year's list. I was deterred by the high price of the hardback edition and some pretty negative friend reviews, which lowered my expectations to the point where I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

As Roy's first novel in 20 years it is hardly surprising that it has a lot of ground to cover. So yes, it is a little messy and perhaps unfo
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Arundhati Roy is an Indian writer who is also an activist who focuses on issues related to social justice and economic inequality. She won the Booker Prize in 1997 for her novel, The God of Small Things, and has also written two screenplays and several collections of essays.

For her work as an activist she received the Cultural Freedom Prize awarded by the Lannan Foundation in 2002.

Articles featuring this book

Twenty years after The God of Small Things, Roy's second novel arrives this month. She talks about her political activism in India and how she...
76 likes · 32 comments
“The moment I saw her, a part of me walked out of my body and wrapped itself around her. And there it still remains.” 104 likes
“Enemies can't break your spirit, only friends can.” 80 likes
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