Updates, criticism of Arundhati Roy’s new book, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness has been floating through everyone’s’ social media feeds. The book which she took two decades to write, more than explains her life as a political activist- protesting against ecological depredations, on behalf of Kashmir independence and against Hindu nationalism, as well as fighting charges of sedition laid against her by the Indian government, left her little free time.
But what has and will always be the most striking thing about Roy’s art, is the weaving of strong fiction with mirror clear thoughts through an eye of a political philosopher.
‘Fiction takes time’, Roy said and we believe so.
Here are some quotes from Arundhati Roy’s new book The Ministry of Utmost Happiness which will help you understand why some books take twenty years.
- “And she had learned from experience that Need was a warehouse that could accommodate a considerable amount of cruelty.”
- “Still the Amaltas bloomed, a brilliant, defiant yellow. Each blazing summer it reached up and whispered to the hot brown sky, F**k you.”
- “Now dust blows on autumn’s breeze, where once were flowers, only flowers.”
- “These days one is never really sure whether a bull is a dog, or an ear of corn is actually a leg of pork or a beef steak. But perhaps this is the path to genuine modernity? Why, after all, shouldn’t glass be a hedgehog, a hedge an etiquette manual and so on?”
- “It was as though the city was breathing through a single pair of lungs, swelling like a throat with that urgent, keening cry.I had seen my share of demonstrations by then, and heard more than my share of slogan-shouting in other parts of the country. This was different, this Kashmiri chant. It was more than a political demand. It was an anthem, a hymn, a prayer. The irony was – is – that if you put four Kashmiris in a room and ask them to specify what exactly they mean by Azadi, what exactly are its ideological and geographical contours, they would probably end up slitting each other’s throats. And yet it would be a mistake to chalk this down to confusion. Their problem is not confusion, not really. It’s more like a terrible clarity that exists outside the language of modern geopolitics. All the protagonists on all sides of the conflict, especially us, exploited this fault line mercilessly. It made for a perfect war – a war that can never be won or lost, a war without end.”
- “In slums and squatter settlements, in resettlement colonies and ‘unauthorized’ colonies, people fought back. They dug up the roads leading to their homes and blocked them with rocks and broken things. Young men, old men, children, mothers and grandmothers armed with sticks and rocks patrolled the entrances to their settlements. Across one road, where the police and bulldozers had lined up for the final assault, a slogan scrawled in chalk said, Sarkar ki Maa ki Choot. The Government’s Mother’s C***t.”
- “There were more than a thousand soldiers, the villagers said. Some said four thousand. At night terror is magnified, the leaves in the Chinar tress must have looked like soldiers.”
- “Not many noticed the passing of the friendly old birds. There was so much else to look forward to.”