Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Friday, March 22, 2019

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy - 2017

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy - 2017

November 24, 1961 - Shillong, Indis

1997 - Wins the Booker Prize for The God of Small Things, with sales of over eight million and translations into forty languages

I read The God of Small Things about 13 years ago, before I began my blog.  I don't recall a lot about it, I know now if I had a blog post on it reading that alone would largely restore my memory of the work.  Like millions of other of her readers I was pleased when twenty years after her first book she published a second one.  The Kindle Edition was originally priced at $14.95 and that seems an unfair price for an E book of a novel.  I put it on my Amazon watch list and monitored the price until I found it on sale for $2.95. (As of today it is back up to $11.95.)

I am getting behind on my postings so this will be a brief post.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is a big sprawling novel with lot of characters set in and is an intimate portrait of a huge very ancient tropical megacity, bigger than Manila.  It is the story of people left behind in the mad rush to create wealth for New Indians.  New developments destroy very old structures of kinship that once sustained a very, I mean very diverse population.  

The aspect of the novel I like best centered on a transsexual individual, called in the culture a Hijra and her struggles to make a life for herself, find a family and love and even raise a child.  In her late teens, her father is ashamed of her, she moves in with a group of Hijra.  Hijra's are discriminated against but represent something once important in Indian society.  The treatment of Hijras should put this on LBGTQ lists. There are lots of characters, many threads of plots and the prose is a pure delight.  

Delhi is a brutal place for those who do not fit in the vision of the future of India of the leadership.  We spent a good bit of time in Kashmir, we see the difficulties between Muslims, Hindus, and Shiks,. We witness the horrible tradgey of the Bhopal Chemical disaster.  There is violence, hatred, and decay every where along side great beauty.

This is a challenging book but very much worth your time.

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