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Book Summary: The Ministry of Utmost Happiness
|Book Title||The Ministry of Utmost Happiness|
|Book Author||Arundhati Roy|
|Publisher||Penguin Random House India Private Limited|
Twenty years ago, Arundhati Roy wrote her Booker Prize–winning novel The God of Small Things, which went on to become one of the best loved books of our time. June 2017 will see Roy’s return to fiction with her new novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness.
‘How to tell a shattered story?
By slowly becoming everybody.
By slowly becoming everything.’
In a city graveyard a resident unrolls a threadbare Persian carpet between two graves—
‘As a private joke, never the same two on consecutive nights.’
On a concrete sidewalk a baby appears quite suddenly, a little after midnight, in a crib of litter—
‘No angels sang, no wise men brought gifts, but a million stars appeared in the east to herald her arrival.
In a snowy valley ‘where tombstones grew through the ground like young children’s teeth’, a father writes to his five-year-old daughter about the number of people that attended her funeral—
“How shall I explain one hundred thousand to you? You who could only count to fifty-nine? Shall we try and think about it seasonally? In spring think of how many red poppies blossom in the meadows . . .”
In a second-floor apartment, watched over by a small owl, a lone woman feeds a baby gecko dead mosquitoes—
“What I should have been”, she thought, “is a gecko feeder.”
And in the Jannat Guest House, two people who’ve known each other all their lives sleep with their arms wrapped around one another as though they have only just met.
Arundhati Roy’s new novel gives us a cast of unforgettable characters, caught up in the tide of history, each in search of a place of safety. It is at once a love story and a provocation, an emotional embrace and a decisive remonstration. It is told with a whisper, with a shout, with tears and with a laugh. Its heroes, both present and departed, human as well as animal, have been broken by the world we live in and then mended by love. And for this reason, they will never surrender.
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness tells a shattered story, magnificently, without ever trying to make it whole. The scope of the book, its peerless prose and unique, formal inventiveness make this novel new, in the original meaning of novel.
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