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The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  14,454 Ratings  ·  2,484 Reviews
A dazzling, moving new novel by the internationally celebrated author of The God of Small Things

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 i
Hardcover, 444 pages
Published June 6th 2017 by Knopf Publishing Group
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Geoff 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…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.
Dhanya If you want anyone's reply, you already have it. If you want everybody's response, you need to be one of the everybody and answer this for everybody.
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Community Reviews

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Emily May
Mar 30, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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 !!
Alok Mishra
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
Hannah Greendale
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

Amit Mishra
Jun 09, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
[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
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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
Aug 09, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jun 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Arnav Sinha
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Nov 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, india
Lots to say about this one. I'll only offer a few brief remarks, as much of that has no doubt been said before.

The book starts in a graveyard - no cheery prospect, as the carrion birds die of ingesting analgesics meant for livestock. We then follow Anjum, a Hijra (look it up), through her life and upbringing. She finds a temporary community, flourishes there, but then is caught up in the 2002 Gujarat pogrom. That is where we return to the beginning of the novel, where she builds a home in the g

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, bu
Ashlula Ayse
Jul 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 21, 2017 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-hold
Arundhati Roy is here to save us all.
Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 4000-books
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
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Paul Fulcher
Aug 06, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: booker-2017, 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
I'm giving up on this one. It has flashes of her brilliance, but it wanders too far and too often from the path.
I spent weeks listening to Roy read her new book to me. She has a darling, child-like voice contrasted with a mouth that utters the most shocking things rarely spoken aloud. Her characters reflect the world in all its diversity: gay, straight, trans, politicians, destitute, landlords, and untouchable caste. India doesn’t seem so distant all of a sudden. And that, I argue, is the reason to read this book. Much of what Roy shares in terms of culture is unfamiliar but her characters and their motiv ...more
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How to tell a shattered story? By slowly becoming everybody. No. By slowly becoming everything.

I’ve always said that nothing can break my heart like Indian writing can. I realised that first while reading Roy’s first book, and it still holds true. The reason behind this, I think, is that Indian writing for me is more personal, more intimate, more close than any other writing can be. It’s much, much more than just fiction, just literature, which is why reading it as just that is not possible for
“Surplus mothers perched like sparrows on the debris of what used to be their homes and sang their surplus children to sleep.”

Arundhati Roy has a bedtime story voice.

My father told legendary bedtime stories. A good storyteller can paint a world for you to step into, and a good bedtime storyteller does it in a way that--even in tales of evil and dragons--makes you feel safe. As you close your eyes and put down your guard, their voice can actually carry you through the tale. It’s the beauty of th
A sprawling, chaotic, weirdly brilliant book. Video review here:
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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.

More about Arundhati Roy
“The moment I saw her, a part of me walked out of my body and wrapped itself around her. And there it still remains.” 40 likes
“Enemies can't break your spirit, only friends can.” 40 likes
More quotes…