THE MINISTRY OF UTMOST HAPPINESS | ARUNDHATI ROY

Normality in our part of the world is a bit like a boiled egg: its humdrum surface conceals at its heart a yolk of egregious violence. It is our constant anxiety about that violence, our memory of its past labours and our dread of its future manifestations, that lays down the rules for how a people as complex and as diverse as we continue to coexist – continue to live together, tolerate each other and, from time to time, murder one another. As long as the centre holds, as long as the yolk doesn’t run, we’ll be fine. In moments of crisis it helps to take the long view.

Arundhati Roy | The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

I read The God of Small Things, Roy’s first novel published in 1997, in the final weeks of my days in New York before returning to live in Southern California. I remember sitting on the floor of my living room, tears streaming down my face as I closed the book on the final page. Was it a conflation of my ambivalence of abandoning Manhattan, no matter how temporarily I deemed this act to be, in favor of Los Angeles, or was it Roy’s straight up powerful writing that had me overflowing with emotion?

I put the book down, went with a friend to grab a bite to eat then rushed home to get into bed and start the book from the beginning. Round two was even more powerful. Twenty years have passed. TWENTY! So grateful for another Roy masterpiece.