A moving new novel-the first since the author’s Booker-Prize winning, internationally celebrated debut, The God of Small Things, went on to become a beloved best seller and enduring classic.
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness transports us across a subcontinent on a journey of many years. It takes us deep into the lives of its gloriously rendered characters, each of them in search of a place of safety – in search of meaning, and of love.
In a graveyard outside the walls of Old Delhi, a resident unrolls a threadbare Persian carpet. On a concrete sidewalk, a baby suddenly appears, just after midnight. In a snowy valley, a bereaved father writes a letter to his five-year-old daughter about the people who came to her funeral. In a second-floor apartment, a lone woman chain-smokes as she reads through her old notebooks. At the Jannat Guest House, two people who have known each other all their lives sleep with their arms wrapped around each other, as though they have just met.
A braided narrative of astonishing force and originality, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is at once a love story and a provocation-a novel as inventive as it is emotionally engaging. It is told with a whisper, in a shout, through joyous tears and sometimes with a bitter laugh. Its heroes, both present and departed, have been broken by the world we live in-and then mended by love. For this reason, they will never surrender.
How to tell a shattered story?
By slowly becoming everybody.
By slowly becoming everything.
Humane and sensuous, beautifully told, this extraordinary novel demonstrates on every page the miracle of Arundhati Roy’s storytelling gifts.
Anita Nair - Lessons in Forgetting
When we first see Meera, she is a carefully groomed corporate wife with a successful career as a writer of cookbooks. Then one day her husband fails to come home after a party and she becomes responsible not just for her children but her mother and grandmother, and the running of Lilac House, their rambling old family home in Bangalore. Enter Professor J.A. Krishnamurthy, or JAK, a renowned cyclone studies expert, on a very different trajectory in life. In a bedroom in his house lies his nineteen-year old daughter Smriti, left comatose after a vicious attack on her while she was on holiday at a beachside town. A wall of silence and fear surrounds the incident— the grieving father is helped neither by the local police, nor by her boyfriend in his search for The truth. Through a series of coincidences, Meera and JAK find their lives turning and twisting together, with the unpredictability and sheer inevitability of a cyclone. And as the days pass, fresh beginnings appear where there seemed to be only endings.
Anita Nair - Mistress
When travel writer Christopher Stewart arrives at a riverside resort in Kerala, India to meet Koman, Radha's uncle and a famous dancer, he enters a world of masks and repressed emotions. From their first meeting, both Radha and her uncle are drawn to the enigmatic young man with his cello and his incessant questions about the past. The triangle quickly excludes Shyam, Radha's husband, who can only watch helplessly as she embraces Chris with a passion that he has never been able to draw from her. Also playing the role of observer-participant is Koman; his life story, as it unfolds, captures all the nuances and contradictions of the relationships being made--and unmade--in front of his eyes.
Anita Nair - The Better Man
A magical, inventive novel about one man's struggle to find his place in the small Indian village of his birth In Anita Nair's warm and imaginative first novel, middle-aged Acuthan Nair returns home to restore his childhood house and to confront old ghosts. When he begins the project, he hires the town painter, One-Screw-Loose Bhasi, to oversee the renovation, and the two men quickly develop a close friendship. Bhasi, who has a special talent for healing the wounded, helps Acuthan come to terms with his mother's violent death and teaches him how to stand up to his overbearing, manipulative father. But when members of the town elite tempt Acuthan with a chance at gaining the status he's always craved, his loyalty to Bhasi is tested. The Better Man is a playful and moving account of the redemptive power of friendship.
Anita Nair - Ladies Coupé
Meet Akhila: forty-five and single, an income-tax clerk, and a woman who has never been allowed to live her own life - always the daughter, the sister, the aunt, the provider - until the day she gets herself a one-way ticket to the seaside town of Kanyakumari. In the intimate atmosphere of the all-women sleeping car - the 'Ladies Coupe' - Akhila asks the five women the question that has been haunting her all her adult life: can a woman stay single and be happy, or does she need a man to feel complete? This wonderfully atmospheric, deliciously warm novel takes the reader into the heart of women's lives in contemporary India, revealing how the dilemmas that women face in their relationships with husbands, mothers, friends, employers and children are the same world over.
Ruskin Bond - The Room on the Roof
The Room on the Roof is Ruskin Bond’s masterpiece of adolescence and coming of age. Written when the author was seventeen, it brilliantly describes the hopes and passions that capture young minds and hearts. A moving tale of love and friendship, it has endured as Bond’s most beloved novel.
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni - The Palace of Illusions
Relevant to today’s war-torn world, The Palace of Illusions takes us back to the time of the Indian epic The Mahabharat—a time that is half-history, half-myth, and wholly magical. Through her narrator Panchaali, the wife of the legendary five Pandavas brothers, Divakaruni gives us a rare feminist interpretation of an epic story. The novel traces Panchaali’s life, beginning with her magical birth in fire as the daughter of a king before following her spirited balancing act as a woman with five husbands who have been cheated out of their father’s kingdom. Panchaali is swept into their quest to reclaim their birthright, remaining at the brothers’ sides through years of exile and a terrible civil war. Meanwhile, we never lose sight of her stratagems to take over control of her household from her mother-in-law, her complicated friendship with the enigmatic Krishna, or her secret attraction to the mysterious man who is her husband’s most dangerous enemy. Panchaali is a fiery female voice in a world of warriors, gods, and ever-manipulating hands of fate.
Tarun J. Tejpal - The Alchemy of Desire
In turn-of-the-millennium India, a penniless would-be writer halts work on his novel only to feed his ceaseless desire for his beautiful wife. Then a chance occurrence moves the lovers to a sprawling old house in a mist-shrouded spur of the lower Himalayas, where a set of diaries written by a glamorous American adventuress is uncovered during renovations. Her words irresistibly draw the writer away from his beloved, thrusting him through the hole of history into another world and time, revealing dark secrets and overturning all certainties.
Pankaj Mishra - The Romantics
Pankaj Mishra is one of the most promising talents of his generation, and this stunning, universally praised novel of self-discovery heralds a remarkable career. The young Brahman Samar has come to the holy city of Benares to complete his education and take the civil service exam that will determine his future. But in this city redolent of timeworn customs, where pilgrims bathe in the sacred Ganges and breathe in smoke from burning ghats along the shore, Samar is offered entirely different perspectives on his country. Miss West and her circle, indifferent to the reality around them, represent those drawn to India as a respite from the material world. And Rajesh, a sometimes violent, sometimes mystical leader of student malcontents, presents a more jaundiced view. More than merely illustrating the clash of cultures, Mishra presents the universal truth that our desire for the other is our most painful joy.
Salman Rushdie - Midnight's Children
Saleem Sinai is born at the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, the very moment of India’s independence. Greeted by fireworks displays, cheering crowds, and Prime Minister Nehru himself, Saleem grows up to learn the ominous consequences of this coincidence. His every act is mirrored and magnified in events that sway the course of national affairs; his health and well-being are inextricably bound to those of his nation; his life is inseparable, at times indistinguishable, from the history of his country. Perhaps most remarkable are the telepathic powers linking him with India’s 1,000 other “midnight’s children,” all born in that initial hour and endowed with magical gifts. This novel is at once a fascinating family saga and an astonishing evocation of a vast land and its people–a brilliant incarnation of the universal human comedy. Twenty-five years after its publication, Midnight’s Children stands apart as both an epochal work of fiction and a brilliant performance by one of the great literary voices of our time.
Kiran Desai - The Inheritance of Loss
This stunning second novel from Desai is set in mid-1980s India, on the cusp of the Nepalese movement for an independent state. Jemubhai Popatlal, a retired Cambridge-educated judge, lives in Kalimpong, at the foot of the Himalayas, with his orphaned granddaughter, Sai, and his cook. The makeshift family's neighbors include a coterie of Anglophiles who might be savvy readers of V.S. Naipaul but who are, perhaps, less aware of how fragile their own social standing is—at least until a surge of unrest disturbs the region. Jemubhai, with his hunting rifles and English biscuits, becomes an obvious target. Besides threatening their very lives, the revolution also stymies the fledgling romance between 16-year-old Sai and her Nepalese tutor, Gyan. The cook's son, Biju, meanwhile, lives miserably as an illegal alien in New York. All of these characters struggle with their cultural identity and the forces of modernization while trying to maintain their emotional connection to one another. In this alternately comical and contemplative novel, Desai deftly shuttles between first and third worlds, illuminating the pain of exile, the ambiguities of post-colonialism and the blinding desire for a "better life," when one person's wealth means another's poverty.
Aravind Adiga - Selection Day
From Aravind Adiga, the bestselling, Booker Prize–winning author of The White Tiger, a dazzling new novel about two brothers in a Mumbai slum who are raised by their obsessive father to become cricket stars, and whose coming of age threatens their relationship, future, and sense of themselves. Manjunath Kumar is fourteen and living in a slum in Mumbai. He knows he is good at cricket—if not as good as his older brother, Radha. He knows that he fears and resents his domineering and cricket-obsessed father, admires his brilliantly talented sibling, and is fascinated by curious scientific facts and the world of CSI. But there are many things, about himself and about the world, that he doesn’t know. Sometimes it even seems as though everyone has a clear idea of who Manju should be, except Manju himself. When Manju meets Radha’s great rival, a mysterious Muslim boy privileged and confident in all the ways Manju is not, everything in Manju’s world begins to change, and he is faced by decisions that will challenge his understanding of it, as well as his own self. Filled with unforgettable characters from across India’s social strata—the old scout everyone calls Tommy Sir; Anand Mehta, the big-dreaming investor; Sofia, a wealthy, beautiful girl and the boys’ biggest fan—this book combines the best of The Art of Fielding and Slumdog Millionaire for a compulsive, moving story of adolescence and ambition, fathers, sons, and brothers. Selection Day is Adiga’s most absorbing, big-hearted novel to date, and proves why “with his gripping, amusing glimpse into the contradictions and perils of modern India, Aravind Adiga has cemented his reputation as the preeminent chronicler of his country’s messy present” (Newsweek).
Vikram Seth - An Equal Music
he author of the international bestseller A Suitable Boy returns with a powerful and deeply romantic tale of two gifted musicians. Michael Holme is a violinist, a member of the successful Maggiore Quartet. He has long been haunted, though, by memories of the pianist he loved and left ten years earlier, Julia McNicholl. Now Julia, married and the mother of a small child, unexpectedly reenters his life and the romance flares up once more. Against the magical backdrop of Venice and Vienna, the two lovers confront the truth about themselves and their love, about the music that both unites and divides them, and about a devastating secret that Julia must finally reveal. With poetic, evocative writing and a brilliant portrait of the international music scene, An Equal Music confirms Vikram Seth as one of the world's finest and most enticing writers.
Anita Desai - Fire on the Mountain
Nanda Kaul is now old. She has chosen to spend her last year alone among the pines and cicadas, high in the mountains in a quiet house, wanting oly to be left in peace. However her solitude is broken with the arrival of her great-granddaughter, Raka. Through the long hot summer, hidden dependencies and old wounds are uncovered, until tragedy becomes inevitable.
Anita Desai - Baumgartner's Bombay
Hugo Baumgartner narrowly escapes the Nazis by fleeing to Calcutta. There he is imprisoned alongside dedicated Nazis by indifferent Anglo-Indian authorities. PW found the book "occasionally irritating in its appropriation of history for its own purposes," but noted: "Desai's artful control of her narrative's agenda results in a compelling fiction."
Shashi Deshpande - Small Remedies
Shashi Deshpande's latest novel explores the lives of two women, one obsessed with music and the other a passionate believer of Communism, who break away from thier families to seek fulfilment in public life. Savitribai Indorekar, born into an orthodox Hindu family, elopse with her Muslim lover and accompanist, Ghulaam Saab, to pursue a career in music. Gentle, strong-willed Leela, on the other hand, gives her life to the Party, and to working with the factory workers of Bombay. Fifty years after these events have been set in motion, Madhu, Leela's niece, travels to Bhavanipur, Savitribai's home in her last years, to write a biography of Bai. Caught in her own despair over the loss of her only son Aditya, Madhu tries to make sense of the lives of Bai and those around her, and in doing so, seeks to find a way out of her own grief.
Sunjeev Sahota - The Year of the Runaways
The Year of the Runaways tells of the bold dreams and daily struggles of an unlikely family thrown together by circumstance. Thirteen young men live in a house in Sheffield, each in flight from India and in desperate search of a new life. Tarlochan, a former rickshaw driver, will say nothing about his past in Bihar; and Avtar has a secret that binds him to protect the choatic Randeep. Randeep, in turn, has a visa-wife in a flat on the other side of town: a clever, devout woman whose cupboards are full of her husband's clothes, in case the immigration men surprise her with a call. Sweeping between India and England, and between childhood and the present day, Sunjeev Sahota's generous, unforgettable novel is - as with Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance - a story of dignity in the face of adversity and the ultimate triumph of the human spirit.
Salman Rushdie - Shame
In this brilliant novel, Salman Rushdie masterfully combines history, art, language, politics, and religion. Set in a country "not quite Pakistan," the story centers around the families of two men-one a celebrated warrior, the other, a debauched playboy-engaged in a protracted duel that is played out in the political landscape of their country. Shame is a tour de force and a fitting predecessor to the author's legendary novel, The Satanic Verses.
Samit Basu - Turbulence
Aman Sen is smart, young, ambitious and going nowhere. He thinks this is because he doesn't have the right connections--but then he gets off a plane from London to Delhi and discovers that he has turned into a communications demigod. Indeed, everyone on Aman's flight now has extraordinary abilities corresponding to their innermost desires. Vir, a pilot, can now fly. Uzma, an aspiring Bollywood actress, now possesses infinite charisma. And then there's Jai, an indestructible one-man army with a good old-fashioned goal -- to rule the world! Aman wants to ensure that their new powers aren't wasted on costumed crime-fighting, celebrity endorsements, or reality television. He wants to heal the planet but with each step he takes, he finds helping some means harming others. Will it all end, as 80 years of superhero fiction suggest, in a meaningless, explosive slugfest? _Turbulence_ features the 21st-century Indian subcontinent in all its insane glory--F-16s, Bollywood, radical religious parties, nuclear plants, cricket, terrorists, luxury resorts, crazy TV shows -- but it is essentially about two very human questions. How would you feel if you actually got what you wanted? And what would you do if you could really change the world?
Vikram Seth - A Suitable Boy
A student, a shoemaker, a poet: three suitors fight for Lata. Meanwhile India, newly-independent, is struggling through a time of great turmoil as the agony of partition still throbs in people's minds - driving a wedge through friendships. families, political unions. Now at the beginning of a new era, the country faces its first general election, and the sixth of the world's population faces its chance to map its own destiny. A shadow of doubt has fallen over Lata's first suitor, the second quietly presses his case, the third dreams of her 'in his head' but still looks for courage. Fortunately, Mrs Rupa Mehra's attentions are diverted by the birth of Savita's baby and augury surely of a happy ending.