The Ministry of Utmost Happiness (audiobook)

16.5 hrs • 13 CDs • Unabridged
Target Audience: Adult
Release Date: 06/20/17
Library CD Library Edition CD titles are packaged in an attractive, full-sized, durable vinyl case with full color art. Cloth Sleeves keep compact discs protected and in numerical order. 
06/20/17 9780525494584
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AudioFile Earphones Award Winner

New York Times Bestseller

Longlist for the Man Booker Prize

An Entertainment Weekly “Must Read” of Summer Books

A Cosmopolitan Pick of Summer Reads 

Washington Post Top 10 Book of Books We Loved

An Amazon Best Book of the Month Selection

A BookPage Top Pick for June 2017

A dazzling, richly moving new novel by the internationally celebrated author of The God of Small Things

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.

It is an aching love story and a decisive remonstration, a story told in a whisper, in a shout, through unsentimental tears and sometimes with a bitter laugh. Each of its characters is indelibly, tenderly rendered. Its heroes are people who have been broken by the world they live in and then rescued, patched together by acts of love—and by hope.

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.

As this ravishing, deeply humane novel braids these lives together, it reinvents what a novel can do and can be. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness demonstrates on every page the miracle of Arundhati Roy’s storytelling gifts.

Review Quotes

“If Arundhati Roy’s lyrical prose, melodic voice, and lilting accents aren’t enough, the stories of Anjum, Tilottama, and a cast of society’s misbegotten—interwoven with India’s social and political growing pains—will keep listeners captivated…Roy’s impeccable diction makes this dense and challenging saga accessible and unforgettable. Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award.”


“Staggeringly beautiful—it feels intimate, yet vibrates with the tragicomedy of myth.”

Boston Globe

“Tales that span from the mourned in a graveyard to the beating hearts of the people of Delhi, masterfully conveying the wide-ranging perseverance of the human soul.”

Marie Claire

“The ultimate love letter of the richness and complexity of India—and the world—in all its hurly-burly, glorious, and threatened heterogeneity.”

Los Angeles Review of Books

Dazzling. . . expansive, touching . . . a novel teeming with indelible characters. Roy shifts places, time periods, and viewpoints with the grace of a master choreographer…Ministry is a beautifully written, powerful story [that] spans a continent and several decades of war and peace and people who live in places and on the streets, as well as undercover and underground—a novel that’s worth the wait. Once again, Arundhati Roy has told a real story.Poets & Writers (cover story)If I were to send one book into outer space to send aliens a message about the human race, I would send this one. It is a magic Persian carpet of a book, with hundreds of interwoven tales within tales and colorful patterns reflecting the history of our human condition.San Francisco ChronicleStirring. . . humane and impassioned . . . beautiful and rich. The novel has the feel of a yarn…Roy’s observations unspool as vivid and gimlet, whether she is describing personal catastrophe or national disasters…Brilliant writing—an ambitious story with a profound moral integrity and a deep emotional impact. Chicago TribuneA deeply rewarding work… Roy writes with unabashed beauty...Images in The Ministry of Utmost Happiness wedge themselves in the mind like memories of lived experience. Slate*“Brilliant. . . well worth the wait. Roy looks unflinchingly at poverty, human cruelty, and the absurdities of modern war; somehow, she turns it into poetry. Highly recommended.Library Journal, (starred review)Epic in scope, sharply realized. . . an engaged story, with many threads, that blends tragedy and political outrage with a humane and hopeful vision of the future…The Ministry of Utmost Happiness place[s] Roy at the forefront of Indian literature.Kirkus Reviews Propulsive, playful . . . this new book finds Roy the artist prospering with stories, and writing in gorgeous, supple prose.  Again and again beautiful images refresh our sense of the world. Sections of the book filled me with awe—not just as a reader, but as a novelist—for the sheer fidelity and beauty of detail—a terrific novelistic noticing.  Roy writes with astonishing vividness. New York Times Book Review (cover review)

“Roy’s second novel works its empathetic magic upon a breathtakingly broad slate—inviting us to stand with characters who refuse to be stigmatized or cast aside.”

O, The Oprah Magazine
A gem—a great tempest of a novel: a remarkable creation, a story both intimate and international . . . Here is writing that swirls so hypnotically it doesn’t feel like words on paper so much as ink on water. This vast novel will leave you awed by the heat of its anger and the depth of its compassion.Ron Charles, The Washington PostCompelling . . . musical and beautifully orchestrated. Roy’s depiction of furtive romance has a cinematic quality, as well as genuine poignancy and depth of emotion. Her gift is for the personal: for poetic description [and an] ability to map the complicated arithmetic of love and belonging . . .  Ministry manages to extract hope from tragedies witnessed.Michiko Kakutani, The New York TimesPowerful and moving . . .  reminds us what fiction can do. Roy’s exquisite prose is [a] rare instrument. She captures the horrors of headlines, and the quiet moments when lovers share poems and dreams. Ministry is infused with so much passion that it vibrates. It may leave you shaking, too.  Roy’s is a world in which love and hope sprout against all odds, like flowers pushing through cracked pavement.Heller McAlpin, San Francisco ChronicleGlorious . . . remarkable, colorful and compelling . . . Roy has a passionate following, and her admirers will not be disappointed. This ambitious new novel, like its predecessor, addresses weighty themes in an intermittently playful narrative voice. You will [be] granted a powerful sense of the complexity, energy and diversity of contemporary India, in which darkness and exuberant vitality and inextricable intertwined.Claire Messud, The Financial TimesA lustrously braided and populated tale woven with ribbons of identity, love, mourning, and joy—and tied together with yellow mangoes, cigarettes, and damask roses.Sloane Crosley, Vanity FairIf you want to know the world behind out corporate-sponsored dreamscapes, you read writers like Arundhati Roy. She shows you what’s really going on.Junot Diaz, in Vogue Ministry is the follow-up we’ve been longing for—a poetic, densely populated contemporary novel in the tradition of Dickens and Tolstoy. From its beginning, one is swept up in the story. If The God of Small Things was a lushly imagined, intimate family novel slashed through with politics, Ministry encompasses wildly different economic, religious, and cultural realms across the Indian subcontinent and as far away as Iraq and California. Animating it is a kaleidoscopic variety of bohemians, revolutionaries, and lovers…With her exquisite and dynamic storytelling, Roy balances scenes of suffering and corruption with flashes of humor, giddiness, and even transcendence.Daphne Beal, VogueA fiercely unforgettable novel…a love story with characters so heartbreaking and compelling they sear themselves into the reader’s brain.USA TodayStunning— a feat of storytelling . . . Roy’s lyrical sentences, and the ferocity of her narrative, are a wonder to behold. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness [is] a celebration.Zak M. Salih, Richmond Times-DispatchThe first novel in 20 years from Roy, and worth the wait: a humane, engaged near fairy tale that soon turns dark—full of characters and their meetings, accidental and orchestrated alike to find, yes, that utmost happiness of which the title speaks.Kirkus (starred review)Ambitious, original, and haunting . . . a novel [that] fuses tenderness and brutality, mythic resonance and the stuff of headlines . . .essential to Roy’s vision of a bewilderingly beautiful, contradictory, and broken world.Publishers Weekly (starred review)To say this book is ‘highly anticipated’ is a bit of an understatement. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness will be a welcome gift for those who’ve missed Roy’s dazzling fiction.Eliza Thompson, Cosmopolitan, “11 Books You Won’t Be Able to Put Down This Summer”As she did in “The God of Small Things,” Roy astutely unpacks the layers of politics and privilege inherent in caste, religion and gender identity. Her luminous passages span eras and regions of the Indian subcontinent and artfully weave the stories of several characters into a triumphant symphony, where strangers become friends, friends become family, and the disenfranchised find the strength to wrestle control of their own narratives.Minneapolis Star TribuneThis is the novel one hoped Arundhati Roy would write about India. Satirical yet compassionate, it channels the spirit of the transgressive-mystical in subcontinental poetry rarely found in Indian-English writing.The TelegraphThis book, only second from Roy's stable in the last twenty years, retains the metaphorical music that she used to fair rapture in her first book. The descriptions, spring to live with her subtle touch, and she, almost, looks to have done that effortlessly.Times of IndiaThe complex and ambitious plot set in Delhi centers on two women. One was born intersex and the other is a freedom fighter, but both are drawn to an abandoned infant. Questions of identity, gender, ethnicity, and religion make this a deep and richly satisfying read.The Christian Science MonitorFrom the fine-grained affection that stirs her imagination springs an ethical imperative—after all, how can one appreciate the world without desiring to defend it? And it must be defended not merely from war or political calamity, but from that natural, more insidious phenomenon: forgetting.Pahrul Segal, The AtlanticArundhati Roy’s prose is always a joy to read.The Washington TimesThe Ministry of Utmost Happiness is a dazzling work of imagination – a tumult of vibrant characters, stories and prose that engages deeply with recent Indian history and the struggles of India’s oppressed peoples. To anyone who thought Roy was a one-hit wonder, the novel is a full-throated rebuttal…. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is an exhilarating read, one that reminds you what great fiction can accomplish.Newsday This intimate epic about India over the past two decades is superb: political but never preachy; heartfelt yet ironic; precisely poetic.The Telegraph