A dazzling, richly 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 is an aching love story and a decisive remonstration, a story told in a whisper, in a shout, through unsentimental tears and sometimes with a bitter laugh. Each of its characters is indelibly, tenderly rendered. Its heroes are people who have been broken by the world they live in and then rescued, patched together by acts of love—and by hope.
The tale begins with Anjum—who used to be Aftab—unrolling a threadbare Persian carpet in a city graveyard she calls home. We encounter the odd, unforgettable Tilo and the men who loved her—including Musa, sweetheart and ex-sweetheart, lover and ex-lover; their fates are as entwined as their arms used to be and always will be. We meet Tilo’s landlord, a former suitor, now an intelligence officer posted to Kabul. And then we meet the two Miss Jebeens: the first a child born in Srinagar and buried in its overcrowded Martyrs’ Graveyard; the second found at midnight, abandoned on a concrete sidewalk in the heart of New Delhi.
As this ravishing, deeply humane novel braids these lives together, it reinvents what a novel can do and can be. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness demonstrates on every page the miracle of Arundhati Roy’s storytelling gifts.
“To say this book is ‘highly anticipated’ is a bit of an understatement. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness will be a welcome gift for those who’ve missed Roy’s dazzling fiction.” —Eliza Thompson, Cosmopolitan, “11 Books You Won’t Be Able to Put Down This Summer”
“It’s finally here! Fans of The God of Small Things have been waiting for Roy’s next novel, and it doesn’t disappoint. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is big, both in physical heft and in ideas. It features an unforgettable cast of characters from across India whose stories are told with generosity and compassion. The novel’s greatest feat is showing the ways in which religious belief, gender identity, and even our safety in the world, are not fixed—they have as much fluidity as Roy’s astute plotting.” —Maris Kreizman, Vulture Summer Books Preview
“A masterpiece . . . Roy joins Dickens, Naipaul, García Márquez, and Rushdie in her abiding compassion, storytelling magic, and piquant wit . . . A tale of suffering, sacrifice and transcendence—an entrancing, imaginative, and wrenching epic.” –Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)
“The first novel in 20 years from Roy, and worth the wait: a humane, engaged near fairy tale that soon turns dark—full of characters and their meetings, accidental and orchestrated alike, in the streets, rooming houses, and business offices of Delhi . . . Roy constructs a world in which characters cross boundaries of ethnicity, religion, and gender to find, yes, that utmost happiness of which the title speaks. An assured novel borne along by a swiftly moving storyline that addresses the most profound issues with elegant humor.” —Kirkus (starred review)
“Ambitious, original, and haunting . . . a novel [that] fuses tenderness and brutality, mythic resonance and the stuff of headlines . . . Shifting fluidly between moods and time frames, Roy juxtaposes first-person and omniscient narration with ‘found’ documents to weave her characters’ stories with India’s tensions . . . Sweeping, intricate, and sometimes topical, the novel’s complexity feels essential to Roy’s vision of a bewilderingly beautiful, contradictory, and broken world.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)