The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is the eagerly-awaited follow up to The God of Small Things, a moving novel that spans decades and goes across the Indian subcontinent to show a cast of interconnected characters and how their lives are shaped by conflict, joy, and circumstance. Depicting the stories of a variety of characters, it does not have a main narrative as much as it puts pieces of different individuals together to form a woven novel showing a modern world and its battles.
The storytelling is expectedly vivid and gives detail to different episodes such as the experiences of a transgender woman, Anjum, who finds community and makes her home in a graveyard, and the complex relationships and life of Tilo, who has been loved by fighters and intelligence officers. These female characters in particular are difficult to forget, with stories that combine family, religious and ideological conflict, and love. Roy’s style suits this storytelling, leading the reader between different narratives easily and making the novel easy to follow and join up the pieces of. From the bustle of Delhi to the countryside of Kashmir, Roy’s descriptions are intricate and show a conflicted and modern world, a world with ancient conflicts in close proximity to branches of Nando’s.
The novel is unlikely to disappoint Roy’s fans who’ve been waiting for her next book. It is a fantastic story full of vivid characters whose struggles are varied and real.