Arundahati Roy's title of her new novel The Ministry of Utmost Happiness should be read upside down to make the utmost sense, since the novel is a constant somersaults of laughter and tears bound together by the mysterious force of 'Khuda Bharose ka juggad' (Faith on God and his contingents) that runs a vast sub-continent.
Its a novel surveying a widespread canvas, bircolaging varied elements to a delicious smorgasbord of a delicious 'kichda' of a dish that combines the disparate elements on an another level altogether, with utmost skill of a creative artist, playfully at serious work.
The Novel is profound and cathartic. Let is hope it reaches many.
The narrative intertwines a Chaos called India positioned on the virgule between opposing forces, thus symbolizing subversion of knowledge based on binary structural opposition. Despite the fractured and fragmented narrative, the containment of the Chaos is amoeba like, which although having a constantly changing shape, still possesses a shape at every second of its nomadic movement. Also, like the amoeba, the narrative fits into every 'gali'(lane) and 'kooncha'(by lane) that it chooses to flow in, never spilling out of control or dispersal. The various threads are looped together in a magical realism knot on the shaky ground between the multiple protagonist's feet, namely the graveyard which becomes populated by both the living and the dead.
That is today's India. We live, both with the dead and the death constantly close at hand. With the ever growing insurgencies and intolerance of a nation where Politics drives a constant wedge and splits the nation in the name of religion and sectarianism for its expedient mileage and profit; we are a nation heading towards implosion.
The author, with the use of various devices that include the epistolary and diary entries, as well as the various voices of numerous protagonists. Poses several question for the readers to mull over and realize the futility of waging losing wars. Not only that, the novel is a stark revelation about doublespeak, exposing the shame of a nation that is happily, like a content cat, lapping the lies fed to them by both the media and the politicians.