The Reviews Of Arundhati Roy’s New Book Are As Polarising As She Is

The Reviews Of Arundhati Roy’s New Book Are As Polarising As She Is

Author Arundhati Roy’s second book The Ministry of Utmost Happiness released this week, close to twenty years after The God of Small Things which landed her the Booker Prize.

Two reviews of the book are out, both being diametrically opposite in views (even the featured image being a giveaway)

Advertisement opens in new window

Let us get to the ‘bad news’ first.

Writing for the Irish Times, Eileen Battersby calls it a “messy and superficial but good-natured narrative”, saying that Roy is striving for territory claimed by the likes of Rushdie while “failing to replicate his trademark bombastic flourish.”

Battersby goes further on the narrative, saying that its “ramshackle and randomly conceived”, adding that it’s easy for a reader to lose interest. She says the prose is far less ‘ponderous’ than in her previous work (which she calls ‘overrated’) and is ‘slangy’ and draws from humour from situations.

She writes: “Roy’s major difficulty as an artist is that her polemical instinct is far more developed than her art. By contrast many leading, if far less famous, Indian writers working in English, are superb stylists blessed with comic flair.”

Advertisement opens in new window

Battersby also thinks Roy has gotten a tad arrogant, saying: “Roy’s new book resonates with the confidence of a writer aware she can now get away with anything, and has, so the narrative slides between the two-dimensional characters and stark factual anecdotes”

She wraps up her review with a stinger: “The kindest comment to make about this formless, overhyped and conventional performance is that reading it is comparable to spending years knitting a giant sweater only to discover that it actually has three sleeves.”

And now on to the better bit.

Writing for The New Yorker, Joan Acocella says what is "so remarkable is her (Roy's) cominatory genius".

The reviewer also touches upon why the book may appeal to the 'west'.

"To American readers, no subject could seem more timely. Transgender people and the issues surrounding them are in the news nearly every day. (And this is not the first important novel about a hermaphrodite in recent memory. Jeffrey Eugenides’s “Middlesex,” published in 2002, won the Pulitzer Prize and has sold four million copies in the United States.) In India, hijras—people who, though biologically male, feel they are female, and dress and act as women—constitute a long-recognized subculture. They have certainly been subject to persecution, but they are now edging their way toward acceptance, as a “third sex.”"

Advertisement opens in new window

And about the Rushdie comparisons:

"Roy’s scenes of violence are hallucinatory, like the chapters on the Bangladeshi independence movement in Salman Rushdie’s “Midnight’s Children,” or the union-busting at the banana plantation in García Márquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude.”  "

Writing for The Arts Desk, Boyd Tonkin is kind too, saying the book has ‘brilliant fragments from a divided India.’

Roy’s scenes of warm-hearted, sharp-tongued street people whose solidarity overcomes divisions of gender, caste, class and creed can veer close to sentimentality”.

Tonkin says Roy “breaks up the continental jigsaw” into many pieces of a ‘shattered story’ and then brings them together with more humanity than those wielding power do.

Immune to systems and ideologies, the novel ultimately finds grace only at the micro-level intimacy of a mother – who may not even be genetically female, let alone a biological parent – caring for a child. The gods, if they still dwell among us, really do live in small things,” he writes.

Next Story : Riyaz Naikoo, longest-Surviving Militant In Hizbul Mujahideen, Could Be Its Next Commander
Download the Outlook ​Magazines App. Six magazines, wherever you go! Play Store and App Store

Post a Comment

You are not logged in, please Log in or Register
THE LATEST ISSUE
CLICK IMAGE FOR CONTENTS
REVIEW
Review
Lord Jagannatha’s Ratha Yatra is one of the great ritual showpieces in Hinduism. This meticulous study lists all, but leaves out the fascinating history.
MAGAZINE June 22, 2017
Review
The great Qurratulain Hyder could be wonderfully gossipy yet notoriously tetchy. Jameel Akhtar brings out the real person, her world and her creations.
MAGAZINE June 22, 2017
Review
One of India’s first female film editors, Patil’s story, shorn of self-pity, weaves personal and professional life and is also about breaking barriers
MAGAZINE June 22, 2017
Review
Arresting imagery and details bolster Salim’s realistic, sensual portrayal of the opposite pulls of small and big town life, as the Grim Reaper waits patiently
MAGAZINE June 15, 2017
Review
The horrific excess of the Inquisition in Goa is fertile ground for a writer. But this Konkani novel is an error-prone travesty at best.
MAGAZINE June 15, 2017
read more>>>
Advertisement

OUTLOOK TOPICS :

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

or just type initial letters