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Paul Matthews

If you love India then you will love this book. It weaves together the history of the country with the culture to produce a love story and merging Muslim, Hindu and Christianity into homogeneity at least for a second. Confused? Then that encapsulates my personal view.

I reached the final chapter without ever really understanding the story. Remove the culture and the history and you have a love story principally involving three characters but with so many sub plots and sub characters, it was difficult to follow. One thing for certain is that you will gain a knowledge of Kashmiri separatism and a knowledge of Indian culture that it would be difficult to achieve without personally visiting the country. The technical ability of Arundhati Roy is unchallengeable. Her use of language is brilliant even if a knowledge of Hindi or Urdu at times would be useful. Would I recommend it yes, if the well-crafted brilliant prose is your bedfellow? Probably not if you are like me unused to reading the works of Booker prize-winning authors. Having said that I read it cover to cover in a few short days. So maybe I enjoyed it after all.

Carole Fieldhouse

I approach long books with caution – concerned with the amount of time they will take to read in a busy life! This book was waiting for me on my return from a lovely Viking cruise, and I must say at once that I probably wouldn’t pack it for a cruise!

I plunged in and was immediately lost in the fascinating world of Old Delhi’s Hijra community – a community for hermaphrodites, as out of place in a modern LGBTQ-literate society as they are in the Duniya - the real world of the rest of India. Roy’s writing is beautiful, if not always straightforward, and full of emotional truth. Anjum’s story and her yearning to become a mother, moved and impressed me.

Suddenly, as Anjum finds her dreamed-for baby, we are plunged into the world of modern Indian politics, the pace picks up and dimly-remembered news headlines resonate again as we are plunged into Tilo’s story – which I am still reading! But I can see how the quote on the dust-jacket is gradually coming true: “How to tell a shattered story? By slowly becoming everybody. No. By slowly becoming everything.

A fascinating, episodic, absorbing story – thank you!

Christine Cox

One story follows Anjum, a hijra (a hermaphrodite) struggling to make a life in Delhi. The other follows Tilo, an irresistible architect turned activist and the three men who fall in love with her. To me, it somehow feels like a collection of single stories and I felt that this was more of a fable than a novel.

All the characters encounter struggles but do have the spirit to fight back and one feels are thus mended by love and hope.

As Arundhati Roy herself once pointed out: - Cezanne supposedly said 'I know what I'm looking at but what am I seeing' We must make of it what we will! Maybe everyone who reads this book will feel the same.

Carole Woodcock

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness was very enlightening and certainly is eye opening.

It gives an in-depth, wonderful explanation of the diversity of India.

An emotional gripping read indeed.

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