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I can only think that Ms Roy used almost every fibre of her being to write this book. For anybody who has lived in a place where all is not as it seems on a fairly grand, enduring scale you'll appreciate the layers upon layers of this narrative. If those are not experiences familiar to you then the beauty of the images countered by others quite unexpected, some funny, many thought provoking, may hold your attention. I hope the person who gave the first review tries again. Ms Roy's reading may not be polished to perfection, but that is what gives this audiobook both charm and a sense of the story's immense wealth.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
Arundhati Roy’s follow-up to her 1997 Booker Prize winning The God of Small Things has been long awaited, and after her twenty years as a high profile political activist, it is no surprise that listening to 16 hours of The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is a challenging, deeply uncomfortable but rewarding experience.
There’s a sort of narrative following mainly Anjum, a transwoman struggling to live in Delhi and finally finding some kind of peace along with others in a city graveyard, and Tilo a strong woman activist not unlike Roy herself and the three men who fall unhappily in love with her. Around these few lives are woven looping skeins of other lives in this huge, sprawling, disjointed, polemical, hydra-headed work - fiction blended with myth, poetry and a justified raging fury against the myriad corruptions and cruelties of modern India and a fired by a determination to give a voice to the disregarded suffering millions.
For me, it’s a work of righteous fury based on Roy’s 20 years of activism – whether it’s concerning the victims of Bhopal walking 3 weeks to make another protest with their ‘macabre bunting’ of birth defects to be ignored once again; 2000 Muslims killed in revenge for Hindu pilgrims burned alive in their train; or most importantly her focus in this labyrinthine work the on-going, unsolved vicious battle over Kashmir in all its heart-breaking detail.
In between these huge concerns are a torrent of others woven in including the building of dams at the expense of communities of poor people and the vast range of government scams – and all those on a small scale – bodies returned without eyes to their relatives; sharp practice in the Eid goat market; precious dead cows swollen with ingested plastic bags; vultures killed by eating carcasses of cows injected to increases their milk yield resulting in dead bodies not being disposed of...
It’s the details that are so telling – the high-heeled young women who think it would such ‘fun’ to visit Kashmir, the woman chucking her rubbish over her balcony as her driver cleans the Toyota Corolla; the little girls in gold slippers trying to avoid the goats’ blood flowing down the street.
Roy reads this lengthy work herself which is entirely appropriate as she knows where to communicate emphasis, compassion, horror and irony. She also reads the quite considerable amount of Hindi / Urdu (I don’t know what language it is) which I would skip if reading the book, but even without understanding the words, it adds to the absorption of the work.
Definitely a 'should-read'!
8 of 9 people found this review helpful
beautifully written, there's magic in this book , I mean real magic , must read . a story from the heart .
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I loved this book. Arundhati Roy reads it beautifully and her writing sparkles and her anger at human behaviour and aspects of India is supercharged.