The Ministry of Utmost Happiness
This book to me felt like a novel that simply explores the perspectives, past and present, of many characters and not necessarily a book with a plot and a well defined storyline
These kind of books have a special place in the heart of a certain type of reader. A reader who puts beautiful, complex writing over plot and feels,someone who doesn’t mind looking back over 100 pages and realizing very little has happened, if it is told in a beautiful language.
The story is weaved around the darkest times of modern Indian history(rom land reform that dispossessed poor farmers to the 2002 Godhra train burning and Kashmir insurgency) but rather than the issues in a Broadway it focuses on microcosm of individuals living through it.
The characters are handful and to do justice to so many characters is very difficult
The first third of the novel is Anjum and her adopted child Zainab plus a large number of other characters, each with a distinctive personality and story to tell.
The second third of the novel takes on an entirely new twist. We move to the ongoing conflict in Kashmir. Here the main characters are Tilo and her friends musa, Nagaraj and Biplab . The four play key roles in the free Kashmir movement, a life of terrorism, violence, human rights abuses, and way too many funerals.
The story however ends on a hopeful note as the two plot lines converge,here both Tilo and Anjum desire to save an unclaimed newborn baby in Delhi and that ultimately leads to foundation of Jannat Guest House which is unexpectedly in a graveyard, but it acts as beautiful a community of outcasts that band together in harmony, and to raise an otherwise unwanted child.