The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

eBook - 2017
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In a graveyard outside the walls of Old Delhi, a resident unrolls a threadbare Persian carpet. On a concrete sidewalk, a baby suddenly appears, just after midnight. In a snowy valley, a bereaved father writes a letter to his five-year-old daughter about the people who came to her funeral. In a second-floor apartment, a lone woman chain-smokes as she reads through her old notebooks. At the Jannat Guest House, two people who have known each other all their lives sleep with their arms wrapped around each other, as though they have just met. A braided narrative of astonishing force and originality, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is at once a love story and a provocation--a novel as inventive as it is emotionally engaging. It is told with a whisper, in a shout, through joyous tears and sometimes with a bitter laugh. Its heroes, both present and departed, have been broken by the world we live in--and then mended by love. For this reason, they will never surrender. How to tell a shattered story? By slowly becoming everybody. No. By slowly becoming everything.
Publisher: [Toronto] : Hamish Hamilton, an imprint of Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited, 2017.
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9780735234352
Branch Call Number: E-BOOK
Characteristics: 1 online resource (449 pages).
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc


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SCL_Justin Jan 25, 2018

The confusion I felt about whether this book is a novel or a collection of linked short stories seems appropriate to a story about hijras and transgender people, and the politics of Kashmir and policing in modern India. These aren't topics that are easily separated into nice boxes, and this book does an excellent job of immersing the reader in that ambiguity. Of course that comes at the cost of a nice simple storyline, but I think it's worth it for the scenes and relationships we get to experience.

Jan 19, 2018


Jan 04, 2018

Can't see what all the fuss is about. Have preferred many other Indian authors.

Oct 25, 2017

With regret, after 200 pages I finally had to give up and acknowledge that I still don't know what this book is all about. I found much of it unintelligible, partly because it's filled with words whose meaning remains a mystery to me; in many cases I could not determine whether words referred to persons, events, places, concepts or whatever. Add to that a plot that appears to be going nowhere, a vast number of characters whose relationship to one another or their importance to the story are not apparent. And then add the preponderance of exasperatingly stupid religious animosity and what have we got left? All I can perceive is an exposition of the vast, irreconcilable disconnect between the government and the governed, where those in power regard most of the populace with contempt and much of the populace view the government and its minions as agents of murder, corruption and oppression. Referring to India as "the world's largest democracy" is obviously a sad joke. But does that make for a good novel?
Ms. Roy is a very angry woman. Anger, well channeled and skillfully wielded can be compelling. But here, there are just too many other problems with the writing that get in the way.
Almost two stars in recognition of some gritty humor and one very promising protagonist. The rest I could have done without.

Sep 26, 2017

This was a difficult book to read. It traveled back and forth in time, and skipped without warning from one place to another. I almost put it down, but couldn't. So many scenes were so unlikely. An hermaphrodte is born to a woman who wants a son so badly she hides his abnormality as long as she can. He grows up and lives as a flamboyant and rather famous Hijra (transgender) in a Hijra house. Later, he sets up housekeeping in a graveyard and is joined by a changing cast of misfits, philosophers, cast offs, and more-or-less ordinary off-beat characters. There's a mysterious baby who appears suddenly and then disappears but is cared for tenderly by one of the graveyard sometimes-dwellers. There are relationships that twist and bind over the course of decades. There's much love, much loneliness, much connectedness, much sadness, much triumph. I gave this book four stars because it won me over so decisively when I was on the fence. But I couldn't stop thinking about it, so I changed that to five stars. The writing and characterization and insights into human feelings were simply beautiful.

Aug 28, 2017

I'm with Brangwinn on her comments. Was so excited to read a book by the Author of the God of Small Things, but found this one long and confusing.

Cynthia_N Aug 16, 2017

I struggled with this one. It was at times a beautiful story with characters I liked but it wasn't enough for me to really enjoy reading it. Three stars because of the character Anjum.

Aug 08, 2017

Highly complex, and polemical at times, but frequently poetic and worth persisting through the confusing parts. It gave me a real feel for a rapidly developing country and Kashmir in particular.

Aug 06, 2017

I have loved the past novels of Roy, but this book failed to hold my attention as _The God of Small Things_ did. I’m not sure disjointed is the right word for the way it was written, but I could never gain empathy for the main characters, although I certainly sympathized with what life must be like for homosexuals in India. I guess part of my problem in reading it was that I kept looking for a plot and there wasn’t one.

Jul 03, 2017

Faced with the kaleidoscope of chaos that was India in the 80's and still now, what other book could Roy write. So much can be forgiven. How else would an author present such incredibly idiocy of war and cruelty. I don't know. The books starts as though on acid you are perceiving a lotus. The middle is as if the lotus has become a petaled IUD that explodes in your heart slow motion. It ends with a bubble gum happy ending laced with cyanide. Tough sledding.

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