The Ministry of Utmost Happiness
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is the second fictional novel by Indian author Arundhati Roy. Arundhati Roy is a human activist and a social worker, she is an advocate for the independence of Kashmir. She mostly conjures up a world that is brutal but realistic. Published on 6th June 2017, twenty years after her debut novel this novel was nominated for National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction.
Love, after all, is the ingredient that separates a sacrifice from ordinary, everyday butchery.— Arundhati Roy
It is very rare to find a novel that cuts through barbed wires of nationality, caste, and religion to reveal bare truth about humanity. This novel deals with some of the most macabre episodes of Indian history, from Godhra train burning, Kashmir freedom struggle to Gujrat massacre of Muslims by Hindus. The reality that was webbed into the words in this novel was not palpable and digestible for the Hindu lot and as a result, this novel sparked up controversy and earned a lot of criticism as the author exclusively highlighted the atrocities committed by the Indian army against innocent Kashmiris through fictional characters, it also highlighted the fascism and caste system present in the Hindu community. Arundhati Roy in her book courageously criticizes the media as to how it alters the reality on the ground to suit the appetite of the Indian audience. Arundhati Roy dedicates this book to the outcasts and unconsoled, people who are rejected by society, this book commemorates their struggles. Roy beautifully uses imagery to jog the reader’s memory and aesthetic sense. This novel isn’t concerned with the conventional task of fiction to evoke drama of consciousness rather it allows us to feel the pain of people who went through and are still going through horrible genocides. The story has two strands one follows Anjum a transgender who is in a constant struggle with the norms laid down by people to which the society expects him to conform to and the other strand follows Tilotoma a thorny, architect turned Christian girl born out of wedlock and three boys Biblap ( a senior officer in intelligence ), Naga ( a journalist ) and Musa ( a Kashmiri freedom fighter ) who are in love with Tilo. Ministry of utmost happiness is an amazing blend of love and tragedy, it consoles the people who had their worlds ripped apart. Whilst it consoles the dejected, it criticizes the atrocities committed on the basis of religion. This book has a very profound message that family doesn’t end with blood, anyone you care about and love becomes your family. Roy has beautifully used fictional characters to pinpoint the vices present in India. It pays homage to the people of Kashmir, Assam, and Nagaland for their freedom struggle. It hints at the fact that how India is using war for her own benefit. Ministry of utmost happiness is a real tear-jerker and gives one a good jolt of reality and a clear picture of Kashmir. I would strongly recommend this book as it takes you to the world of outcasts and allows you to feel their pain. As the novel comes to its end Roy reveals the meaning of the Ministry of utmost happiness, Roy in her book gave the name Ministry of utmost happiness to the Jannat guest house where all the outcasts and rejected loved each other without any discrimination. After reading this book I wish that the world could transform into a Ministry of utmost happiness. Happy Reading!