Book Reviews

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy

I had a difficult time reviewing this book. I struggled to keep the focus on the novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness and not on the author, one of India’s best and Booker Prize winner, Arundhati Roy.

The topics traversed in Roy’s long awaited second novel are numerous and loaded – India’s caste system, poverty, the taboo and treatment of transgenders in India, the rising Hindu nationalism and Azad Kashmir. Only a gifted writer like Arundhati could have managed to mix all these flavors together in a unique, one-pot meal, and still make her readers savor the experience simply for the love of literature and not for the cheap thrill of reading a suspenseful story.

As far as the plot is concerned, I was not too impressed. There were too many story lines that seemed like they were forced to intersperse. I also had a tough time getting past the laborious details of the political issues surrounding Kashmir. But I didn’t care. I was hanging on to every word that spilled out of the author’s unfiltered thoughts. Her way of describing emotions and characters had an almost hypnotic influence on me.

This book does not make for light reading (You should expect that, especially if you’ve read her first work of fiction, The God of Small Things). It is deep and heavy. At times, I felt as though I was being tossed by waves of sadness and despair. But I didn’t care. Because I was too busy enjoying the ride. Because I was too immersed in a work of art that was special and unique.

(This article was originally posted on the author’s Facebook page on July 29, 2017).

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