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The Ministry of Utmost Happiness: Book Review

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The blurb silently proclaims that ‘this ravishing, magnificent book reinvents what a novel can do and can be.” Blame it on the sheer size of name and fame of the author or some enthusiastic publisher’s marketing gimmick promoting the book, to say the least, on reading the book, it succeeds in disproving this claim.

There are loud claims – ‘How to tell a shattered story? By slowly becoming everybody. No. By slowly becoming everything.’

A wonderfully written book, but which falls flat on its face, as its soul is missing. The author is desperately trying to play to the gallery with misplaced notions of realities of our world, frantically picking elements which are dysfunctional, live and act in a dysfunctional world and seeking a utopia of their dysfunctional imaginations.

Characters are caricaturish, situations improbable, impossible, contrived and invented. The author has taken it upon herself to orchestrate a narrative, across characters, time and spaces, without bothering to make a connection with the reader. The characters move in and out without any rhyme or reason. They exist lacklustrely on pages, while the author overindulges with too much of her larger world view, prejudices and biases against communities and administrations. The author makes the mistake of harping too much on her worldview, taking the stance of the supreme knower, pushing her pleas and complaints against all and sundry.

Linking ordinary lives with larger tales of democracy, governments and passing sundry judgements are in bad taste. She may have picked up her inspiration from some author who would have pulled this through, but she fails miserably. You get the sense that she is collating lots and lots of sweet tales, anecdotes and smart references and trying to pull them all together in the name of the novel. The lurid details and descriptions are desperate and in poor taste.

Overall, a big disappointment from such a fine writer. I guess the pressure of coming out with something equal to her debut novel, pushed the author to create such poor authorship.

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