Twenty years after Arundhati Roy took the literary world by storm with her debut novel, the universally adored The God of Small Things, winner of the 1997 Booker Prize, she returned with an equally moving masterpiece, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. To mark the paperback publication of this critically acclaimed novel, Arundhati Roy will be taking part in the Penguin Podcast in front of a live audience. The Penguin Podcast gives listeners the chance to understand the origins of a story and the experiences that influenced its development. This is a unique opportunity to be in the audience as Arundhati Roy enjoys an intimate conversation with Kirsty Lang, discussing five objects that inspired or shaped the writing of her books, telling us the stories behind her stories.
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness spools outwards from the cramped neighbourhoods of Old Delhi into the burgeoning new metropolis and beyond, to the Valley of Kashmir and the forests of Central India, where war is peace and peace is war, and where, from time to time, 'normalcy' is declared. A resident unrolls a threadbare carpet in a city graveyard. A baby appears quite suddenly on a pavement, a little after midnight, in a crib of litter. A father writes to his five-year-old daughter about the number of people that attended her funeral. Through a rich cast of characters, the novel tells a story spanning many years and an entire subcontinent. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is at once an aching love story and a decisive remonstration.
Arundhati Roy lives in Delhi. As well as her two novels, she has also published several works of non-fiction, including The Algebra of Infinite Justice, Listening to Grasshoppers and Broken Republic. She has written about Hindu Nationalism, Maoist rebels, the War on Terror and India’s nuclear test.
Kirsty Lang is a British journalist and broadcaster who works for BBC Radio and Television. Kirsty presents the BBC Radio 4 programme Front Row. She was a chair of the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2008.
LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2017
THE SUNDAY TIMES #1 BESTSELLER and THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
'Magnificent - unlike anything I've read in years. An absolutely dazzling, original, and ultimately profound novel... A masterpiece. Very few writers can write with such intense and yet precise emotional intelligence. Arundhati Roy is properly special. We should be grateful to have her among us.' Mirza Waheed, author of The Book of Gold Leaves
'Roy's second novel proves as remarkable as her first' Financial Times
'A great tempest of a novel... which will leave you awed by the heat of its anger and the depth of its compassion' Washington Post
The first novel in 20 years from the Booker-prize winning author of The God of Small Things
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness takes us on a journey of many years-the story spooling outwards from the cramped neighbourhoods of Old Delhi into the burgeoning new metropolis and beyond, to the Valley of Kashmir and the forests of Central India, where war is peace and peace is war, and where, from time to time, 'normalcy' is declared.
Anjum, who used to be Aftab, unrolls a threadbare carpet in a city graveyard that she calls home. A baby appears quite suddenly on a pavement, a little after midnight, in a crib of litter. The enigmatic S. Tilottama is as much of a presence as she is an absence in the lives of the three men who loved her.
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is at once an aching love story and a decisive remonstration. It is told in a whisper, in a shout, through tears and sometimes with a laugh. Its heroes are people who have been broken by the world they live in and then rescued, mended by love-and by hope. For this reason, they are as steely as they are fragile, and they never surrender. This ravishing, magnificent book reinvents what a novel can do and can be. And it demonstrates on every page the miracle of Arundhati Roy's storytelling gifts.
'A novel that demands and rewards the reader's concentration, this is a dazzling return to form' Independent
'This novel is a freedom song. Every page has the stamp of Roy's originality. Such brutality, such beauty' Amitva Kumar, the author of Immigrant, Montana
'Intricately layered and passionate, studded with jokes and with horrors... This is a work of extraordinary intricacy and grace' Prospect Magazine
'Gorgeous, supple, playful... Roy writes with astonishing vividness... Again and again beautiful images refresh our sense of the world' The New York Times Book Review
'A masterpiece. Roy joins Dickens, Naipaul, García Márquez, and Rushdie in her abiding compassion, storytelling magic, and piquant wit. An entrancing, imaginative, and wrenching epic' Booklist starred review