Book Review: The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness

How to tell a shattered story?
By slowly becoming everybody.
By slowly becoming everything.

After a long wait of twenty years, Arundhati Roy’s new release has met all the expectations that were bestowed upon it. Her exceptional story telling capabilities and spectacular writing abilities make this book an instant favourite of bibliophiles.


Like its predecessor, The God Of Small Things, The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy has numerous memorable characters.

Be it Anjum, a hijra born as a boy and who struggled throughout her life to find a foothold, braving all the discriminations against her; or the cigarette smoking, unreadable, strong willed and a woman of few words, Tilo from Kerala, the book has a number of strong characters. One immediately falls in love with brave militant Musa, that is ready to sacrifice anything for his land and with the various acquaintances of Anjum like Saddam Hussein and Zainab.

The reader can’t help despising the malicious and heartless Amrik Singh, an Indian military officer tracking Muslim terrorists. Other main characters include Naga and Biplab, college friends of Tilo and Musa. Even though there is an abundance of characters, Roy has done a spectacular job in telling each one’s tale with the same ferociousness and care.


The book begins with the story of Anjum, a hijra living in a graveyard in New Delhi. As the story unfolds with her chasing her dreams and aspirations, and the atrocities and prejudices against people of the third gender, the reader is transported through various milestones in the history of India like the Gujarat riots, second freedom struggle against corruption, and the likes.

The second plot begins with an abandoned newborn in Delhi that changes many lives that it touches upon. The story then takes one to the war trodden Kashmir, where three friends- Naga, Musa, and Biplab fight for the same purpose, but under different roles- one a journalist, other a militant, and the third a military officer, each having their own definition of nationalism. Fate has their paths crossing yet again after decades, along with that of Tilo, the girl that all the three loved.


The book has been written with painstakingly honest words that touch upon the reader’s soul in a manner that only Roy’s words can. Each word and every sentence need careful attention to grasp its meaning to the fullest depth. She weaves magic with her words and grips the reader with her masterful storytelling.


Arundhati Roy’s latest release, The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness is as much a heartbreaking tale of love, friendship and family; as it is an eye opener to the disastrous political situations in India, corruption, the prevailing caste and religious prejudices and terrorism and the never ending fight for Azadi (freedom) in Kashmir.

Because of the controversial subjects addressed in the book, many are sure to criticise the book. With the state that our country is in right now, we need more bold authors to come up with such books. This is a must read for every single Indian out there as many a youth are either blinded by the senseless political parties that they support or basking in the safety of their metropolitan environment.


Story – 5/5




11 thoughts on “Book Review: The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness

  1. Idle Muser says:

    Seems it would be a loss to me if I do not get the hold of this book as soon as possible. Thanks Reethu for such a decent review and letting me know what I might miss if I miss this wonder- The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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