Arundhati Roy’s first novel, The God of Small Things, sold eight million copies. Twenty years later, her second novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/06/05/arundhati-roy-returns-to-fiction-in-fury), is finally here. Join Gramercy Book Club and its facilitator, Ohio State University English scholar, Pranav Jani, for what will be a fascinating exploration of this long awaited novel, its activist and celebrated author, and the compelling issues facing her homeland.
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.
A ravishing, deeply humane novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness reinvents what a novel can do and can be, and it demonstrates on every page the miracle of Arundhati Roy’s storytelling gifts.
Pranav Jani is associate professor of English at Ohio State with a focus on postcolonial studies and US ethnic studies. His research and teaching interests lie in the literatures, cultures, and history of colonized and formerly colonized people (in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Ireland) and people of color in the United States. In particular, Jani specializes in South Asia and the South Asian Diaspora. Jani’s current research investigates the 1857 Revolt in British India and its impact on Indian political and cultural imagination. In 2016, Jani received the Dr. Marlene B. Longenecker English Faculty Teaching and Leadership Award. Campus groups, high school teachers, and community organizations in Columbus and around the country have invited him as a speaker. Jani serves on the Executive Committee of the South Asian Literary Association (SALA).