15. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy

I am guilty of picking up books not based on their summary/author/cover/title but because they’re popular and I want to know about the hype. This book although is pretty popular no one actually touched on the “type” of book  this is, and rightfully so. “The Ministry of Utmost Happiness” is one of the most mind boggling oxymoronic books in the literary world that’ll leave you confused with what is going on. But how else are you to lure in the world about an issue that even the UN hasn’t been able resolve decades later.

Now Arundhati Roy seems like one badass woman from the little that I know of her – Google her! Her book “The God of Small things” (still need to get a copy) was pretty popular and everyone expected the same from this one but were terribly disappointed. I don’t think it’s right to expect the same impact from one bestselling author, there needs to be variety! However if I wasn’t disappointed, I wasn’t quite moved either.

It was a struggle for me to complete the first 150 pages, it gets overwhelming with the amount of stories and sub stories and their sub stories where honestly I was at a point of utter annoyance at what the book was about! Then it finally took a turn for what the actual plot was: Freedom Fight of Kashmir and a brutally raw narration she laid out without holding anything back.

The story is about Tilo, Naga, Musa, and Garson Hobert, but before they are introduced the story is about Anjum, Nimmo, Ishrat, Saddam Hussain, Ustaad Hameed, Dr. Azad Bhartiya, and Miss Udaya Jabeen. I’ve missed out at least 10 important characters and their story line. I get it Ms. Roy I get it.

“How to tell a shattered Story?” by slowly becoming everybody.


By slowly becoming everything”

Roy became every single character, embodied their soul, mind, body, ideologies, and opinions to form this intricate web of raw human encounters and emotions we overlook every single day. That doesn’t mean that all of this can’t be borderline overkill. I honestly struggled through this book at a few points and it wasn’t till the very last hundred pages where I was hooked.

Nonetheless, she held nothing back in painting a picture where no one is good or bad- be it the Indian/Pakistani Govt., Kashmiri civilians and their militants or our beloved heroes and heroines. Reading this requires a good amount of tolerance and appreciation for political satire or else you’ll be throwing it against the wall. Coming from a woman this is work of fearless caliber, coming from an Indian a pretty honest painting, but from a human, a beautiful display of empathy and sympathy.

So, back to the basics:

  1. Rating: 3.5/5.0
  2. Favorite quote: “If you’ll pardon me for making this somewhat prosaic observation- maybe that’s what life is, or ends up being most of the time: a rehearsal for a performance that never eventually materializes.”
  3. Reader level: Not that difficult. In fact it has Urdu and Hindi poetry and slangs, along with Pashto as well.
  4. Should you read: If you’re one of those leftist thinkers, go ahead.
  5. Would I read it again: Once is enough, I guess.

Till next time,

– Sarah

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