The Ministry of Friendship: A review of Arundhati Roy’s (non)-fiction “The Ministry of Utmost Happiness”

A.L. Rougier (© June 2017)

A teaser from a much longer review manuscript:

There is something interesting happening within the pages of this book. It is a novel but it is not completely fiction, it’s more like (non)-fiction. It is doing something different, hence my reasoning for calling it a literary unicorn. It is innovative and renders the possibility for something new; something unhinged, as Arundhati mentions in the prelude; she poetically starts the book with this line: “At magic hour, when the sun has gone but the light has not, armies of flying foxes unhinge themselves from the Banyan tree in the old graveyard and drift across the city like smoke.” This in essence, this alchemy, this magic, represents the daring form of poetic literature within the pages—this fresh way of combining fiction and non-fiction that only someone who lives a life sympathetic and empathetic to Arundhati, can recognize and appreciate. It is beautiful. It is creative. It is a reminder of the beauty of poetry and the conviction of literature. The mysticism of fiction is that it makes the world tangible because it forces us to see things anew. Like everything that is good, it takes a while for the masses to comprehend and grasp the beauty that is sprawled before them. It is always in retrospect, in the future, looking back, that they can and will understand—and as always, history has the receipts, they will love what they once hated, sycophantically. One must pay attention to the prose and the essence of Arundhati as a writer, the energy she uses to nurture detailed descriptions from the smallest to the largest. If one blinks or glances over a word or a paragraph, when it returns to clarify itself, a few pages later, or, a chapter or two later, one will miss the delicate pearl within the hardened shell—for example, the revealing of the Landlord’s name, the significance of “G-A-R-S-O-N H-O-B-AR-T” or the simple reason why Das Goose remembered Tilo’s wedding or even better, the cleverness of  “pee ell a see ee.”




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