Arundhati Roy’s novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, is best described as a sprawling narrative populated by a massive and diverse cast of characters. It is at the same time a meditation and an engagement of India’s social conditions. The novel explores the fundamental conditions of Indian society in the face of its rapidly changing global status as a capitalist power, as new and old begin to clash. At the same time, it takes a long and hard look at the relationship of India with Kashmir, with the latter waging a decades-long war for independence.
Admittedly, this novel has been a long time coming. It is Roy’s second novel and her follow-up to the acclaimed Booker Prize winning God of Small Things. The 20-year gap between the two novels sheds some insight on the shaping of the second book. As a political activist, Roy has been keeping busy in the past couple of years and the fire that has fueled her struggles has definitely had a defining influence on her novel.
In the end, it is a worthy second outing for Roy. We highly recommend that you give the Ministry of Utmost Happiness a try.