1.5/5 Stars, Don’t Judge a Book by its cover, Seriously, don’t.
“Nietzsche believed that if Pity were to become the core of ethics, misery would become contagious and happiness an object of suspicion.” ~Arundhati Roy
And so it has, for Mrs.Roy at-least. She has followed Nietzsche beliefs to the T. This book is so full of pity invoking misery that you would choke on the lines, words, syllables and ..will…find…it…hard…to…turn…the…page, as it is so full of biased political nonsense! It was a mistake picking this up before reading ‘God of Small things’, by what I have gathered (just by reading reviews and such, not read the actual book yet) her first book is much better and more objective, than the pure bias that has oozed out of her and stained every page of this 464 page lengthy tome.
Goodreads Blurb :- The Ministry of Utmost Happiness takes us on an intimate journey of many years across the Indian subcontinent – from the cramped neighborhoods of Old Delhi and the roads of the new city to the mountains and valleys of Kashmir and beyond, where war is peace and peace is war.
The tale begins with Anjum – who used to be Aftab – unrolling a threadbare Persian carpet in a city graveyard she calls home. We encounter the odd, unforgettable Tilo and the men who loved her – including Musa, sweetheart and ex-sweetheart, lover and ex-lover; their fates are as entwined as their arms used to be and always will be. We meet Tilo’s landlord, a former suitor, now an intelligence officer posted to Kabul. And then we meet the two Miss Jebeens: the first a child born in Srinagar and buried in its overcrowded Martyrs’ Graveyard; the second found at midnight, abandoned on a concrete sidewalk in the heart of New Delhi.
It was a hell of a coincidence that I finished George Orwell’s ‘1984’ just before this. The novel’s name “The Ministry of Utmost Happiness” is a reference to George Orwell’s world where ‘Ministry of love’ tortures people and ‘Ministry of Peace’ conducts wars. Similarly Mrs.Roy’s Ministry of Utmost Happiness talks about utmost despair, also this is perhaps what she thinks of the Indian government, an institute that is guilty of extreme cases of ‘Doublethink‘ in her opinion.
The two main characters ‘Anjum’ and ‘Tilo’ , I found were her (‘Mrs.Roy’, the hater of Modi, the champion of insurgents, the comrade of Maoists, the self declared expert on what a hateful and shitty institute the government and society of India is, the very woman who any anti-India clown can use & say ‘HAH! she is one of you so she ‘knows’ things, you guys are really shit‘, herein referred to as ‘her’ now and later in the review) own two sides, or perhaps her one side divided into two people, because how can so much hate, misery, bias and venom be contained in only one person, people would just not believe it! So, two people, Anjum ‘the hizra’ to lay bare the total hypocrisy of the Indian society, of our communal frenzy and caste misuse, the bourgeois pigs all of us. And Tilo ‘the eccentric’ for Kashmir of-course, to showcase Indian atrocities and oh the evil designs and completely unjustified behavior of the army towards terrorists (ahh sorry, ‘Freedom fighters’ in her views, ‘Azaadi ka matlab kya ‘la ilaha illallah’, Seriously? Mrs.Roy? I have many Muslim friends who would be completely disgusted by what you consider ‘a just cause’). The characters main purpose is to show, point by point how unfair everything is in their world, and how they have become used to it, that the cradle of civilization, is anything but civilized.
I really wish I could review this book on purely literary basis, just the story (Which I can’t as there is no story, ..lives, ..two miserable lives, but no story) but I can’t. Her views are what stayed with me, and they are so nihilistic that despite my love for cynics, I was just plainly irritated through out the book. Yes, there is a lot wrong with us, there really is! but this!..this was just over the top plain old nonsense.
To all the people who think that their knowing about India a little better, would perhaps improve their reading experience of this book, It Won’t. It would just make you sigh with exasperation and wish to God that this book was shorter or written with some sense. So, yeah, despite some profound text in the book, I did not like it. And coming from a ‘Booker prize’ awarded author this was a great disappointment (and this was nominated this Year for Booker’s! what were they thinking?) .
In my opinion, you could do without this book, it’s just a lady being bitter about everything she disapproves of in her world, whether right or wrong she doesn’t care, I could have definitely done without it. All that glitters is not gold my friends, spare yourselves.